Accountant General Asserts Sole Right to Handle Yahav Tender

The Bank Yahav tender has stirred up yet another storm at the Finance Ministry between Accountant General Yaron Zelekha, Director General Joseph Bachar, legal advisor Yamima Mazuz and Wages and Labor Agreements Director Eli Cohen. Zelekha claims none of the treasury's senior staff besides him has the authority to handle the matter of the Bank Yahav tender.

Thus, his decisions on the matter are still valid. Zelekha charged that the decisions by the director general and other treasury officials to postpone the tender by three months are illegal. Mazuz supports the postponement.

The Finance Ministry's accountant general division published a tender calling on all banks to provide banking services at preferred rates for civil servants, which Bank Yahav has been providing exclusively without a tender. The civil servants union, which owns 25 percent of the bank, took labor action this week against holding the tender.

State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss published a report some months ago harshly criticizing the state's management of Bank Yahav, and called for holding an open tender to provide banking services to civil servants.

Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson, who is allied with Yahav chair Michael Zoller, is not handling the issue. And yet, this week Hirchson transferred responsibility for the case from the accountant general to Bachar.

Two meetings took place yesterday at the treasury regarding Yahav involving senior ministry staff. Zelekha did not attend but sent his representatives. Still, he called both Bachar and Cohen and attacked their behavior, asserting his exclusive statutory right to handle the tender.

According to Zelekha, the district court ruled the accountant general's management of the matter was proper. Having failed in the courts, Bank Yahav, as well as the civil servants, then pursued other venues. Zelekha warned Bachar and Cohen that he would file a complaint against them to the state comptroller and to the state attorney general.

"The agreement worked out two days ago between the Finance Minister and union representatives to freeze the tender for supplying banking services to civil servants and ending the country-wide strike is legal and valid," the treasury said. The ministry claims the deal was made with the backing of Mazuz and believes "the deal is proportional and reasonable and meets all accepted standards."

The treasury noted it had removed the threat of a strike allowing citizens to enjoy the services they deserve from various government ministries, and that the tender had only been frozen and could resume after a dialogue between the sides. "A communication channel is preferable over the path of strikes and socioeconomic damage," the ministry concluded.