Yuval Steinitz
Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz at the ministry in Jerusalem in April, 2010. Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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"The fact that the Israeli economy is controlled by 30 families does not constitute corruption. But it does cause economic problems and damages competition," Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz said this weekend during an interview with the Channel 2 television program "Friday Studio."

"We must find ways to reduce centralization without harming the economy," Steinitz said. He noted that he objects to the high salaries among Israeli executives, but also any attempts to rein in oversized wages through legislation.

"Throughout the world, including the United States and Europe, there is great opposition to unduly high salaries, but throughout the world there is also opposition to passing laws against this practice," Steinitz said. "Even President Barack Obama backed down from plans to impose legislation in the United States against high pay for executives."

In Israel, the finance minister continued, there are people whose salaries are so scandalous and unjustified they are essentially robbing their companies' shareholders - "but in business the rule is 'don't be right, be smart.'" Steinitz did not provide any details of his, or his ministry's, plan to fight these exaggerated salaries or whether such a plan even exists.

Regarding the bill being introduced by MK Shelly Yachimovich (Labor) and MK Haim Katz (Likud) - which would reduce wage gaps by capping executive salaries at public companies at no more than 50 times the wages earned by the company's lowest-paid workers - Steinitz said that such populist laws are often proposed in the Knesset.