Following his demands two weeks ago to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman to take steps to mitigate rising prices for fuel, electricity and consumer goods, Histadrut Chairman Arnon Bar-David announced the establishment of a monitoring committee to examine the cost of living in Israel. The committee is set to include experts and professionals with economics and sociology backgrounds.
The committee will be headed by Histadrut Director General Ofir Alcalay, and will work to monitor changes in the price indices in the economy and compare Israel’s situation with other developed countries. The rate of price increase will be regularly examined against the changes in real wages, in order to prevent wage erosion, and to balance the gap between household incomes and expenditures.
Accompanying Alcalay on the committee are Adam Blumenberg, Vice President of Economics and Policy at the Histadrut; Amit Ben-Tzur, managing director of the Arlozorov Forum; attorney Yaron Levinson, director of the Histadrut Consumer Authority; Hila Shinok, Director of Macro and Policy in the Economics Department at the Histadrut; Mazal Golan, chairman of the workers union of the Ministry of Welfare. Statisticians, senior accountants and external consultants from academia and other industries will be on the committee as well.
The monitoring and analyzing to be done by the committee will follow a variety of categories, in order to accurately reflect all socioeconomic classes. Bar-David asked the committee to formulate an alternative index to the consumer price index in a way that would more accurately reflect the lower deciles of the population as well.
Along with monitoring the rise in product prices, the committee will examine the Israeli government’s investments in public services and civilian infrastructure compared with its international counterparts. This process will examine whether the government promotes labor productivity and human capital in a way that will ensure lower living costs in the long run. The committee will publish recommendations for decision makers and periodic reviews to the public.
The committee will also examine the market activities that lead to the harm of the consumer public. Specifically, they will keep a close eye on the centralization in the chain of production and marketing, and warn of price increases related to the monopolistic power accumulated by some of the commercial entities which, in parallel with their activities as manufacturers or importers, also act as marketers. The committee will also examine the impact of lowering tariffs in the various industries, and the excess profitability rate of public companies relative to the world.
“The temporary containment of rising prices seen across the Israeli economy, which we have achieved together through public pressure, will not last long if we are not constantly vigilant,” Bar-David said.
The Histadrut chairman continued with his remarks, stating: “Manufacturers and importers, some of whom have agreed to delay their intentions to raise prices, are already scheming for the next opportunity [to raise prices]. They need to know that Israeli society is always watching them and will know how to react accordingly.”
“Whenever a profitable commercial entity wants to take more from pockets of Israeli households, we will be here to warn the public and make sure that every greedy behavior has its consequences,” he warned.
“In my tenure as Histadrut chair, we have proven more than once that we know how to act responsibly and be a senior partner in finding solutions that help stabilize the local economy and strengthen workers and the economy. We will invest in activities that will help deal with the cost of living, and we will continue to play a leading role in protecting workers, even when they are consumers.”
This article was translated from Hebrew by Zak Newbart