Naftali Bennett to Tackle Economic Concentration as Trade Minister

Habayit Hayehudi's chairman demands the passage of a law addressing economic concentration even before the 2013 state budget is approved.

Habayit Hayehudi chairman Naftali Bennett is slated to become minister of industry, trade and labor. He is also expected to be given expanded authority over issues involving economic concentration, which is seen as reducing economic competition and efficiency by allowing much of the power to remain in the hands of a few corporate consortia.

During the negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the formation of the new government, Bennett has demanded the passage of a law addressing economic concentration even before the 2013 state budget is approved.

Sources in Bennett’s party said linking passage of the budget to a law based on recommendations submitted a year ago by a government-appointed economic concentration committee would ensure such a law would not fall by the wayside.

About a week ago, Bennett posted a video on YouTube underlining the importance of a law addressing economic concentration. He called for its immediate passage and claimed it would lower prices.

Outgoing Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz has favored requiring corporate pyramids to separate their finance-based companies from those that do not engage in financial businesses within six years. But representatives of Bennett’s party have been demanding that the time limit be shortened to four years, as recommended by the official panel on economic concentration.

Habayit Hayehudi also favors limiting new pyramids of control to two tiers.

No. 2 on the Habayit Hayehudi slate, Uri Ariel, is expected to be named housing and construction minister, with responsibility for the Israel Lands Authority, or the Israel Lands Administration, as it is to be known in the future.

Michal Fattal