Various economic issues pertaining to Israel were discussed with OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, who attended the Cabinet meeting together with several of his aides.
(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)
At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday, 21 November 2010):
1. OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria and several of his aides attended today’s meeting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the following remarks:
"We welcome you today to our Cabinet meeting, our friend Angel Gurria, the Secretary General of the OECD. Israel has recently joined the OECD. We said that we would honor our commitments and one of them is to invite you to our Cabinet meeting. We very much appreciate all the effort that you have made. In fact, our acceptance to the OECD was a product of many difficult reforms in Israel carried out over the years, but even that would not have been sufficient without your efforts, Angel. So we’re deeply appreciative and I am very happy to welcome you on behalf of my colleagues in the Cabinet to this deliberation in Jerusalem and I’m looking forward to hearing the various ideas that you have because we can learn a lot from the OECD.
Our acceptance into the OCED was contingent on many reforms that we needed to enact, reforms that would open Israel to imports and free the currency, reforms regarding budgetary restraint and lowering taxes, capital market reforms, pension reforms, support payment reforms, and privatization. All of these were subject to fierce debate; there was no agreement on them. It was not easy to enact them. Since I led many of them, I can say: It was very difficult and we have now received a stamp of approval in that we have been accepted into this organization of the most advanced economies in the world. This is an indication of what we have achieved up to now, but it is no substitute for what awaits us.
Ours is a country that depends on export markets. The Israeli economy is currently performing better that most of the world’s advanced economies. Therefore, if we count only on exports, we will be unable to keep advancing at the same pace to which we are accustomed. Consequently, we must develop growth engines that do not depend on world markets. There is one such growth engine – the construction and real estate markets in Israel. Young couples marry and have children and, naturally, they want apartments, they need homes, malls and schools. All this is related to construction and this is a growth engine in and of itself.
We are leading a series of reforms and other changes that we need to enact. Today, I submit to the Cabinet one of the steps that we have been discussing – reductions in the historic betterment tax. There will be many other such changes. We must get this engine started. But this does not detract from the important milestone of our entry into the OECD."
OECD Secy.-Gen. Gurria thanked Prime Minister Netanyahu and discussed various economic issues pertaining to Israel. The Cabinet discussed these issues and those raised by the Prime Minister.
2. Prime Minister Netanyahu took his leave from outgoing GOC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yedlin. The Prime minister paid tribute to him, wished him well and said (inter alia):
"I met with him every week, sometimes several times a week. We discussed the difficult problems and new challenges that face us, from the Iranian nuclear threat through the threat of missiles and rockets against the State of Israel, the development of Hezbollah and Hamas, as well as various developments in the countries of the region. I believe that Amos succeeded in giving us the tools with which to assess these dangers and to prepare to meet them."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak also paid tribute to Maj.-Gen. Yedlin and to the IDF Intelligence Corps.
3. The Cabinet decided to appoint retired Judge Dan Arbel to chair a committee to evaluate candidates for the position of Civil Service Commissioner.
4. The Cabinet approved a multi-year development plan for the Western Wall plaza. Please click here for further details.
5. The Cabinet discussed reductions in the historic betterment tax.
6. The Cabinet approved amendments to the 2010 Economic Efficiency Law (regarding oversight of various financial services) and authorized the Ministerial Committee on Legislation to approve the final draft and submit it to the Knesset forthwith.