PM Buys From Likud Supporter Rami Levy for Residence

Cut-rate grocery chain doesn't have a tender with the Prime Minister's Office.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose tastes run to expensive cigars and premium pistachio ice cream, does his daily taxpayer-funded food shopping at discount grocery chain Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma.

TheMarker has found that the official Prime Minister's Residence buys food and other household products at the cut-rate chain. From December 1, 2012 to December 2013, it is will be spending a projected NIS 100,000 at the chain, which is owned by declared Likud supporter Rami Levy. Levy was chosen as supplier without a tender.

The state foots the bill for the home of the prime minister and his family at his official residence in Jerusalem, and also absorbs some of the expenses of his private residence in Caesarea. In 2012 the budget for the Prime Minister’s Residence was increased to NIS 3.3 million, compared with about NIS 2.2 million in 2011.

Before the election Netanyahu promised to appoint Levy, who is considered a Likud stalwart, to the “100 days team” for formulating the government’s steps during the initial period of its establishment. The team never did materialize.

Recently the Prime Minister’s Office applied to the tenders committee for an exemption from a tender to extend the contract with Rami Levy by NIS 40,000 for the months May to December, 2013.

In the application the PMO said that it had published a tender for the provision of groceries to the Prime Minister’s Office on March 1, 2013. "As of this time, the tender procedures have not been completed," it stated. "On January 1, 2012, the PMO contracted with Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma to buy shopping vouchers totaling NIS 50,000 including VAT. In addition, on April 4, 2013, the office contracted with the supplier for an order totaling NIS 10,000 including VAT.”

Those vouchers had been used up, he PMO said, and asked the tenders committee to approve expansion of the contract by NIS 40,000, "until such time as a winner is chosen in the above-mentioned tender or until the budget is used up, whichever comes first."

It added that Rami Levy Shivuk Hashikma had been chosen because of its competitive prices.

An analysis of the request shows that the average monthly purchase between December 2012 and April 2013 was for NIS 12,000, and according to the request the average purchase between May and December is estimated at NIS 5,000.

About two months ago an exemption was given for a tender to purchase ice cream for the Prime Minister’s Residence at the annual cost of NIS 10,000 from the Glida Metudela ice cream parlor, of which one of the proprietors was formerly Sara Netanyahu’s hairdresser. The story sparked widespread public criticism, prompting Netanyahu to announce that he was ending the arrangement.

Daniel Bar-On