Israeli Government Panel Mulls Imposing Price Controls on More Goods

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Shoppers at a supermarket. The government is mulling placing more consumer products under price controls.Credit: Ilan Asayag

Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday told an interministerial committee to consider imposing price controls on more food products, including canola oil, wholewheat bread, yogurt, pudding, soy milk, frozen vegetables and toilet paper.

The list is based on a preliminary Finance Ministry review of price changes on various food products over the past few years, while comparing with prices internationally and taking into account the degree to which these products’ manufacturers are competitive, the ministry said.

The products on the list are produced by companies including Hadera Paper, Pri Galil, Shemen, Sunfrost, Tara and Tnuva.

Two years ago, the state comptroller called on the cabinet to create a list of basic food products, with an eye to nutrition and health, and to make these items cheaper.

Not everyone thinks that price controls are the way to achieve this. Some argue that better competition would do the job more effectively.

In his letter to the joint Finance Ministry-Economy Ministry panel on prices, Lapid said part of the goal is bringing Israeli consumers’ purchasing power in line with that of consumers in other developed countries.

The most recent consumer cost-of-living protest, dubbed the Milky protest, was over the price of pudding in Germany versus Israel.

Meanwhile, MK Gila Gamliel (Likud) submitted a bill designed to lower the price of basic foodstuffs. The bill, which has the support of 30 MKs from 11 parties, would place some 20 more items under price controls.