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      Bennett: Imports Will Bring Down Cost of Living

      The government promised lower prices, and on Monday it will try to begin to fulfill its promise.
      By David Lev
      First Publish: 8/25/2013, 9:58 PM

      Naftali Bennett
      Naftali Bennett
      Israel news photo: Flash 90

      The Inter-ministerial Committee on the High Cost of Living in Israel, chaired by Economics Minister Naftali Bennett, will meet on Monday to discuss ways of undoing the numerous blocks to competition in Israel. Among the proposals to be discussed will be a relaxation of rules on many imported goods, to increase competition and lower the cost of living for the middle class.

      The ministers will discuss a number of other proposals, such as setting price controls on additional items – among them 5% and 9% spreadable cheese, according to reports – and ways to ensure that the prices of basic items in Israel are more in line with those abroad.

      A lack of competition has been cited as one reason for those high prices, and the ministers will discuss ways to increase competition by lowering duties on imports of basic items, from cheese to tuna fish.

      The ministers will appoint a special subcommittee that will examine products and their prices in Israel and abroad, and try to determine what the specific reasons are for the lack of competition on specific items. The subcommittee will submit its findings within six months.

      In a statement, the inter-ministerial committee said that “the campaign we are leading is designed to bring down the cost of living, and we are proceeding with this campaign full-force. Israel's economy is small and naturally drifts to being concentrated in the hands of the few. This is unacceptable. Where there is no competition we will strive to create it. This is the time to deal with the draconian roadblocks to opening the market to imports. There is no reason that there should be differences of hundreds of percent between the cost of items we use everyday, and the price of those items abroad.”