(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Cabinet this morning (Sunday), 10 September 2006, approved Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s proposal to establish a National Economics Council in the Prime Minister’s Office. Among the Council’s responsibilities will be: Formulating policy initiatives for achieving growth while reducing social gaps, and preparing both opinions on the state budget prior to its submission to the Cabinet and alternatives to the budget, to the extent necessary. The Council will also deal with the following long-term issues: The state budget preparation process; government policy in the labor market; social policy in Israel; and the necessary systemic civil service reforms.

The Council will have a Research and Information Department to be chaired by the Council’s Vice-Chairman and to be composed of at least five senior economists that specialize in macro-economics, taxation and budgets, labor markets, pensions and capital markets. The Prime Minister will appoint an advisory committee for the Council to be composed of senior, experienced public sector economists. In order to assure a high level of professionalism, the Council Chairman and the Research and Information Dept. staff will devote several hours a week to academic activities.

Prof. Manuel Trajtenberg of Tel Aviv University’s Eitan Berglas School of Economics will chair the Council.