The current formulation of a bill designed to combat economic concentration would damage the Bank of Israel's independence, central bank governor Stanley Fischer stated in a position paper.
The bill would give the antitrust commissioner increased oversight over sectors that have a limited number of players and are declared a "concentration group." This would include the country's banks.
In the paper, which was sent to Knesset Economic Affairs Committee chairman MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen over the weekend, Fischer took objection to the clause that stated that should the antitrust commissioner and the central bank disagree, the government would decide on the issue. "This would seriously damage the independence of the Bank of Israel, as well as its authority and that of the banks commissioner," Fischer wrote.
The central bank and the banks commissioner are responsible for regulating the banking industry, and have the unique responsibility of ensuring the sector's stability, he wrote. This is the job solely of the central bank, and not the government, and this makes the bank different from other regulators, he wrote.
The central bank wants the Knesset to return to the original formulation of the bill, which would have ensured that steps to increase competition in a given sector would need the approval of both the antitrust commissioner and that sector's regulator.
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