The line-up at the Ministry of Finance will likely change when the new government takes up office. Ministry of Finance director general Yarom Ariav will be replaced and Supervisor of Capital Markets, Insurance and Savings Yadin Antebi's term expires this summer
Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu plans to set up a special economic team that will include himself, Governor of the Bank of Israel Prof. Stanley Fischer, the new minister of finance, and the national economics council chairman. This team will set economic policy, with Netanyahu closely coordinating day-to-day collaboration between the organizations so long as the economic crisis persists. The team is aimed at ending the solo policies that have largely characterized recent times.
The new economic landscape is already taking shape. First of all, Netanyahu will take the lead, navigate, and decide. Second, Fischer will serve as Netanyahu's right-hand man. An announcement published by Netanyahu's aides that he will offer Fischer the finance portfolio was unsophisticated spin meant to send the message that Fischer will be the most important man in the economy after Netanyahu.
Netanyahu and Fischer will be joined by Manuel Trajtenberg's successor as chairman of the national economics council. Former Accountant General Yaron Zelekha sees himself in this role, but his character and the sheer number of his sworn enemies from his time at the Ministry of Finance means that Netanyahu cannot appoint him to such a senior post.
The new finance minister will need to find his place in this jigsaw puzzle. The identity of the new minister is still not known, and will largely depend on the coalition structure and various extraneous political calculations that have nothing to do with economics. This is why Netanyahu has placed most of the burden on himself and Fischer.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 26, 2009
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