Committee to Mull Compensating Needy Families for Bread Price Rise

An interministerial committee will discuss the possibility of compensating needy families for the expected rise in the cost of price-controlled breads, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert decided yesterday.

The committee will include representatives of the Prime Minister's Office, the Finance Ministry and the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Employment.

Bakeries have been refusing to bake price-controlled breads since the end of last week, and have announced that they will not resume unless they are allowed to raise prices to compensate for a 35-percent increase in the price of flour.

However, Industry Minister Eli Yishai has refused to allow them to do that unless the government creates a mechanism to compensate poor families for the rise.

Yishai will meet with representatives of the major bakeries today in an effort to persuade them to resume baking the price-controlled breads, which include the most common varieties - whole and sliced white bread, whole and sliced dark bread, and plain challah.

The bakeries are continuing to produce more expensive varieties, which are not price controlled, as usual.

At the end of last week, there was a nationwide shortage of traditional challot, sparking widespread criticism of the bakeries, which continued to produce non-price controlled breads.