cost-of-living subcommittee - Tomer Appelbaum - 26082011
The cost-of-living subcommittee meeting with the public Thursday in Jerusalem. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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"The challenge of the Trajtenberg committee and this is what we are going to do is to act strongly to crack the problem of economic concentration," former antitrust commissioner Dror Strum said yesterday.

The Trajtenberg committee, headed by former chairman of the National Economic Council Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg, met yesterday for the third day in a row in Jerusalem. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau appointed the committee in response to the recent protests over the cost of living.Strum is a member of the subcommittee on competition and reducing the cost of living.

"Up until three months ago, there was a dispute over whether there was a problem of economic concentration in the [Israeli] economy, and there were those who presented figures that tried to prove there was no such problem," said Strum.

"Today, it seems we have made a sharp transition from that world to a situation in which we are dealing with problems of competition and concentration," he added.

'Cities don't want the poor'

The subcommittee on real estate issues also met yesterday morning. Various citizens, representatives of nonprofit organizations and academics participated in the meeting and presented proposals. The subcommittee includes the director general of the Prime Minister's Office, Eyal Gabbai; Prof. Rafi Melnick; and Aharon Eliyahu, a deputy director general of the Israel Tax Authority.

A number of people appearing before the committee complained that mayors do not allow construction of small apartments or renewal projects."Netanya and other cities are totally not interested in weaker populations," said Netanya city councillor Ofer Orenstein."This is an arrogant policy, and the middle class and young couples have been sacrificed to this policy. For years they have not built small apartments in Netanya, while in contrast, numerous luxury projects are being built in the city," he said.

Another suggestion was to establish a national authority for renovating distressed neighborhoods. Other recommendations included building taller buildings, as well as cutting the high property taxes, such as betterment taxes.

The subcommittee on food prices also met with the public yesterday."Cottage cheese and housing are just part of a broader problem in the Israeli economy over the past decade," said Yiftah Shaked, one of the organizers of the cottage cheese boycott.