PM Bennett seeks to energise Israeli economy by slashing regulations

·1-min read
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett speaks during a news conference on economy in Jerusalem

By Steven Scheer

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, a former software entrepreneur, pledged on Tuesday to slash regulations to cut the cost of living and help Israel's small and medium-size businesses flourish as well as its globally successful hi-tech sector.

"We want to 'hi-tech-icise' the rest of the economy," he told a news conference. "We're going to turn ourselves into a paradise for small and medium businesses ... to make it easy and compelling to open a business and succeed."

Bennett, who took office last month, took a swipe at his predecessor Benjamin Netanyahu, saying Israel had endured 12 years of talk and "minimal execution".

Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman said there were 209 regulators in Israel, and that they acted mainly in their own interests instead of aiming to improving productivity, competition and growth.

He pointed to a 2018 report by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development which said that reducing the level of regulation to the OECD average would increase Israel's per-capita GDP by 3.75% in five years, and 5.75% - 75 billion shekels ($23 billion) - over a decade.

A report by the prime minister's office and finance and justice ministries says Israel's per capita GDP and productivity have lagged Western peers for a decade due to over-regulation.

Under a framework law, the government plans to establish a single authority to oversee regulatory processes, and to factor speed of processing, competitiveness and pricing into corporate regulations.

($1 = 3.2630 shekels)

(Reporting by Steven Scheer; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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