Mr.
Chairperson, Honored Members of Knesset:

I
have come here today, moments before the vote on the law, to say several
things:

 

Together,
we have advanced a very significant and extensive reform, which was formulated
through agreement after about a year of discussions. The Bank of Israel leads
and will continue to lead this reform, professionally, with integrity, and
focusing exclusively on the benefit of the public. The Bank of Israel has in
fact already adopted very important steps to begin implementing the reform,
some of them even before the Strum Committee completed its work (for example,
defining the terms for control of acquirers by the entities that will buy the
credit card companies), and others even before the legislative process was
completed (for example, the directive to separate the boards of directors of
credit card companies from those of the banks that control them). There are
several reservations, not all of which were examined sufficiently deeply. For some
of them, it is quite probable that their negative impact will outweigh their
benefit—referring, of course, to the negative impact to the public. It is
important to explain that ultimately it will be the Bank of Israel that will be
charged with the responsibility to implement most parts of the reform, so it is
therefore important that the Bank of Israel will lead, together with the
Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Justice, the enactment of the
regulations in various areas.

 

Specifically,
with regard to the Financial Information Sharing Law,
I note that several days ago we discussed
the issue, in view of its complexity, and formulated an agreement—the Minister
of Finance, me, Committee Chairperson Eli Cohen, and others—on the outline that
we felt is responsible and appropriate. This outline is completely undone in
the proposal, that I am surprised to understand the Ministry of Finance and the
Committee Chairperson support, on which you are about to vote. I will explain:
the addition of information on interest on credit facilities to the section
dealing with the sharing of financial information is meant to serve precisely
the same end that the Credit Data Law is meant to serve, which is to lead to
enhanced competition in credit. It is absolutely clear that including this
information adversely impacts the realization of the objective of the Credit
Data Law. This negative impact was focused on yesterday by the Deputy Attorney
General and the Committee’s Legislative Counsel. I emphasize that we support
the sharing of information, and are already working in joint teams to promote
it. However, Knesset members, you legislated the Credit Data Law a year ago,
and imposed on the Bank of Israel the task of establishing the Credit Data
Register. We are working intensively on that, investing huge quantities of
manpower and resources. In the current legislation you are liable, with the snap
of your fingers—and without allowing the professional entities even the two
months (!) that we requested to examine the issue—to lead to the Credit Data
Register, that will be established at tremendous effort and great expense, being
a white elephant. This, of course, without any of us being able to say today if
one model is preferable to another, and without adequately considering the
various aspects of privacy and information security that the Economic Affairs
Committee discussed over many months with regard to the Credit Data Law. The
Minister of Finance and I agreed that the information to be transferred, and how
it is used, will not conflict with the Credit Data law, and it was clear to us
that the formulation of the details of the Bill (nature of the information, for
what use, manner of transmitting the information, etc.) that will be
established in amendments will be through agreement, because these are
the areas of the Bank of Israel’s professional expertise, because it is the
entity that is establishing the Credit Data Register, and because the entity
that issues guidelines to banks is the Banking Supervision Department at the
Bank of Israel and not the Minister of Finance with the approval of the
Governor. Here too, the bill contradicts the agreement.

 

The
final thing that brought me here today
is to refer to the manner in which some of you addressed Bank of Israel
employees during the course of the discussions. Bank of Israel employees are
public servants who come here to present to you their professional position as
an input to the legislative process, and to contribute to the laws you are
legislating being better and for the benefit of the public. Lashing out at
them, when they say something you don’t want to hear, insulting and hurtful
comments, raising voices—although all these did not deter them, ultimately they
are liable to deter excellent professional people from arriving here and
telling you their professional truth. Such a situation certainly will not
improve the laws you are legislating, and is beneath the dignity of the Knesset
and you. I advise you to keep this in mind.​