As part of a drive to ease the regulatory burden on Israelis and lower prices, the Energy Ministry said on Monday it would be doing away with duplicate energy-certification approvals on imported home electrical appliances and would now accept certifications provided by importers.
The change comes in response to complaints by importers that certification by authorized Israeli labs before they could be sold in the domestic market added tens of thousands of shekels of unnecessary costs and delayed products coming onto the market.
The new rules, however, will still require air conditioners to undergo local certification. Other appliances will still be subject to inspections on a random basis to ensure that the energy-usage figures supplied by imports are correct.
Critics of the new measure warned that it could open the way to unrestricted, unsupervised imports of electrical products and undermine the government’s attempts to encourage energy savings.
The decision was taken at a meeting Monday of the ministerial committee on regulations, which was created by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lighten what he has called Israel’s excessive regulatory burden. Every ministry has since received a list of regulations that should be examined in conjunction with a consulting company.
Netanyahu called the duplicate certification of appliances an “outrageous arrangement.” “If you want to import energy-intensive electrical products, you can’t be satisfied with the European standard because there’s a special Israeli standard that costs money, reduces competition and rolls the cost onto the consumer,” he said. “We are going to adopt the European standards and lower prices to the Israeli consumer.”
In a related decision, Shaul Meridor, the Energy Ministry’s director general, said the ministry would be cutting back the frequency of energy-efficiency audits it conducts from once every five year to every seven. Another audit, for energy usage, will be applied to a smaller number of users and the audits themselves conducted once every two years, instead of annually.
“Renewing the energy standards every few years costs factories and businesses a lot of money and involves a lot of hassle,” Netanyahu said.
In related news, the Agriculture Ministry and growers reached an agreement to open up the market for fresh and frozen farm products to more import competition. Under the accord, tariffs for fish, olive oil and frozen vegetables will be reduced for thousands of tons of imports over the next three months in exchange for which growers will receive financial compensation.
In the case of olive oil, for example, 2,000 tons will be imported duty free and growers will get 16 million shekels ($4.1 million) in compensation.