An invitation by the Israeli government for foreign construction companies to come operate in Israel drew some 50 offers from firms in China, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Portugal, as well as unexpected countries like Russia, Vietnam and Ukraine, the Housing and Construction Ministry said on Monday.
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The invitation came after the cabinet housing committee approved a plan to allow up to six foreign construction companies to operate in Israel over the next five years as part of a program to increase housing construction and ease pressure on prices.
The plan comes as efforts to bring in more foreign construction workers by contracting them through manpower firms have failed. Although there is a quota for up to 20,000 foreign construction workers, only about 7,000 are working in Israel today.
“The housing market in Israel has suffered for the last several years from a labor shortage, from a slow pace of construction and high costs,” said Housing Minister Yoav Galant. “Foreign companies, with their proprietary construction techniques that in a lot of cases aren’t used in Israel, will bring technology and professional labor to help reduce construction times and cut costs.”
Each of the six companies will be allowed to bring in up to 1,000 construction workers, though they will only be able to do heavy work in residential construction projects. They will be able to work jointly with Israeli builders.
The ministry said the 50 companies submitting offers will be vetted by a committee led by its legal adviser, Eliezer Bamberger, to see which ones meet minimum criteria and score those who do according to the quality of the offer.