MKs Under Pressure to Avoid Taking Tycoons to Task

Economic concentration panel presents progress to Knesset.

The heads of the panel on economic concentration presented their progress to the Knesset Finance Committee yesterday.

Last October, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu charged Finance Ministry Director General Haim Shani and outgoing Prime Minister's Office Director General Eyal Gabbai with finding ways to increase competition within Israel's economy.

The prime minister said at the time that the panel's recommendations would be issued within four months, but the report still has not been released. Gabbai and Shani's team is commonly referred to as the economic concentration committee.

At yesterday's committee meeting, Gabbai and Shani declined to discuss their panel's work in detail, but Gabbai said it was examining several topics, including cross-ownership of companies and expanding the Antitrust Authority's powers to address the issue.

Interim report expected in August

Gabbai, who will be leaving the Prime Minister's Office in August, said there was no deadline for the panel's interim report but that efforts were underway to have a draft completed by the time he left.

Knesset sources said they anticipate a final report will be issued by the end of the year.

Knesset members are being pressured not to address economic concentration, Finance Committee chairman Moshe Gafni told TheMarker after the meeting yesterday. Gabbai had told the Finance Committee that he had not come under pressure.

Meretz MK Zahava Galon called on Gabbai and Shani to publicize the minutes from their panel's meetings.

However, Shani underlined the sensitive nature of the deliberations, saying interim disclosures were not appropriate.