Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed the cabinet vote slated for yesterday on the Neeman committee recommendations for limiting executive salaries, as he apparently realized he did not have a majority to approve them.
It is still unclear if Netanyahu will hold the vote at next week's cabinet session and whether changes will be made in the proposals.
"The prime minister has yet to formulate a position. When a decision is made, he will announce it," said the Prime Minister's Bureau. "Netanyahu will meet in the coming days with the professional staff to study the recommendations," said his office, adding that it did not know when the vote will be held.
Established by Netanyahu and headed by Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, the committee was set up with the aim of formulating solutions to augment supervision over excessive salary levels in public companies. The panel did not recommend placing any limits on salaries in such firms, but did make a number of recommendations strengthening the oversight requirements of boards of directors and shareholders assemblies.
The committee was presented with a number of possible recommendations by 27 experts who appeared before it during 10 sessions. Among the suggestions were to limit the highest salaries in a company to some multiple of the lowest or average salary in the firm, or to some multiple of the average or minimum wage.
Senior officials said Netanyahu and Neeman were afraid to bring the recommendations to a vote for fear of being defeated: Four Shas ministers oppose them, as do a number from Likud and Yisrael Beiteinu.
However, a number of Knesset sources say that there is another possibility for the delay: They say Netanyahu is being pressured by a group of wealthy tycoons and lobbyists not to approve the recommendations, which also include restrictions on pyramidal hierarchical holdings in firms; this pyramidal arrangement allows control of a long string of subsidiaries with the investment of relatively little capital.
The Neeman panel has proposed that a majority of the public shareholders be required to approve executive wage packages in companies with these pyramids of control, and the tycoons are apparently worried their own salary agreements would be endangered.
Neeman did present the recommendations to the cabinet yesterday. A number of ministers asked for the vote to be postpones in order to give then enough time to study the issues involved. They each received a 300-page booklet on the matter from Neeman and said they needed more time. Other ministers spoke out against the recommendations, saying they were inadequate and did not place any real limitations on excessive wages.
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