(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director-General Ra’anan Dinur today (Tuesday), 5 December 2006, announced that the PMO had decided to advance the establishment of a private equity fund, in cooperation with the private sector and under its management, that would invest an overall sum of NIS 160 over seven-to-ten years in industrial enterprises, companies and other businesses in the minorities sector. At a Jewish-Arab Center for Economic Development conference in Herzliya today, Dinur said that he intended to act towards “one economy in one country,” in order to “realize the great economic and human potential that exists in the Arab sector but which has yet to be utilized.”

PMO Dir.-Gen. Dinur said that the problem of self-capitalization necessary for investment was one of the main obstacles to the growth of private businesses in the Arab sector; therefore, it had been decided to assist in this endeavor. He said, “In our view, the establishment of the fund is not only a financing mechanism but also a way of encouraging funds to invest in businesses in the Arab sector in order to upgrade them in terms of marketing, management, etc.”

The private body that will operate the fund, following a tender, will be asked to commit to raising an additional sum of at least NIS 80 million from private investors. A source of investment financing worth approximately NIS 160 million will thus be at the disposal of the Arab sector. Any factory, company or business will be able to apply for NIS 2-4 million in financing thus enabling 40-80 companies to receive financing assistance in exchange for stock.

PMO Dir.-Gen. Dinur said: “We want to prevent a situation in which Israel has two separate economies – with different patterns of participation in the workforce, different levels of participation and unequal opportunities.
Government policy must provide the tools to ensure the sector’s ability to integrate into the Israeli economy.”

PMO Dir.-Gen. Dinur discussed the PMO’s intention to establish a Minorities Sector Economic Development Authority to utilize and advance the Arab sector’s latent economic potential and the integration of sector businesses in wider economic activity, to encourage productive economic activity and to create the tools to increase the businesses’ sources of income. The Authority will also act to raise the issue of the Arab sector on the Government’s agenda.

PMO Dir.-Gen. Dinur said, “Children in the Arab sector will have no future if we are unable to provide them with an economy that will advance their integration and the utilization of their economic potential. Past checks have shown me that the Arab sector’s use of the tools provided by the Government is very low. Therefore, we must – inter alia – deal with the accessibility of these tools to the Arab business community.”