MKs Behind Anti-price Tagging Law: We Were Bamboozled Into Sponsoring It

Bill would let retailers drop price labels from individual products if they place electronic price tags on shelves instead.

Two more MKs behind a contentious bill to remove price tags from products denounced the proposal on Monday, arguing they had been misled into sponsoring it.

The bill would let retailers drop price labels from individual products if they place electronic price tags on shelves instead. It has been roundly slammed as anti-consumer, and TheMarker reported that it is being advanced by supermarket chains Super-Sol and Mega (Blue Square ), which would benefit from the move. The supermarkets have denied it.

Last week, the Knesset passed the bill in a preliminary reading and the Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved it, too. This was before TheMarker's report.

The bill was initiated by MK Moshe Matalon (Yisrael Beiteinu ). His assistants said he signed on MKs Carmel Shama-Hacohen (Likud ), Yulia Shamalov Berkovich (Kadima ) and Yoel Hasson (Kadima ). Two days ago, Hasson said he wouldn't support the bill so long as it would let electronic signs on shelves replace labels on individual products - which indeed it would.

On Monday, Shama-Hacohen and Berkovich withdrew their support as well. "I won't vote for the bill in the current format," Shama-Hacohen said. "I was misled when I was told that the Industry and Trade Ministry supports the bill. I believed the intent was to increase transparency for consumers and competition in places where price tags are not currently displayed, such as on fruits, vegetables and sacks of beans." The bill would not receive the approval of the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee, which he chairs, he said.

Berkovich said, "This is an outrage. I signed one formulation and the ministers approved another version."

Matalon rejected any allegations that he had misled his peers. "I didn't speak with the MKs personally and I didn't mislead them. We submitted the proposal through our parliamentary assistants," he said, noting that this was not the first time MKs had backtracked from bills that they themselves signed.

He admitted that supermarket chains proposed the initial idea for the bill, but he refused to say which ones.

The Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry stated in response that it was the MKs' responsibility to find out whether claims that it supported the bill were true, and that the MKs had not bothered to check.