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Finance Ministry insiders are concerned about a possible politically-motivated appointment to head up the Government Companies Authority in place of the outgoing chief Udi Nissan. Nissan was recently appointed head of the Finance Ministry's budgets department.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz recently appointed a search committee to find a replacement for Nissan, headed up by Yadin Antebi, supervisor of capital markets. Committee members include Eitan Padan, the former chief executive of Halamish, and Avraham Natan, a former civil service commissioner who is associated with the Likud party. There was no public advertisement of the committee.

Candidates include Ehud Danoch, who ran on the Likud list for the Knesset in the recent elections, Oren Hellman, a former member of then finance minister Benjamin Netanyahu's bureau, and Likud's accountant, Elad Meiri, as well as others personally associated with Steinitz.

All of the Finance Ministry's top positions in recent years have been filled by economists, accountants and lawyers whose political affiliations were unknown.

Top officers in the ministry voiced their concerns yesterday that Steinitz might change the norm, and that his appointments will be based on political leanings rather than professional record. Next on Steinitz's agenda is the appointment of a new director general for the finance ministry, followed shortly by a new director of capital markets, insurance and savings to replace Antebi.