Netanyahu: Era of ports monopoly is over

"We began with Open Skies, and now we're going to Open Seas," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announcing the tenders for new ports.

"I am not prepared to accept this monopoly. It's over. I am telling the Histadrut that it's over. 2,000 people will not strangle us and will not paralyze the economy. Nothing will deter us. We must do this well, but we will do it. The era of the monopolies at Israel's seaports is over," said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at today's press conference, where he officially announced the tender for the construction of two new ports at Haifa and Ashdod. "Globes" has reported that each port will cost $1.1 billion, and that the Histadrut (General Federation of Labor in Israel) will oppose the measure.

"This is a great day for Israel, and a very happy and even exciting day for me. Ten years ago, when I was finance minister, I sought to revolutionize Israel's seaports, and we began to dismantle the Ports Authority. It took us years to take the second step, the privatization of the Eilat Port, and today we are taking the next step of building two new seaports," said Netanyahu.

"This will reduce the cost of living on almost every product in Israel, and it will also make our exports more attractive. We have five major growth engines: gas; increased exports to markets such as China; bringing new communities into the workforce; technology; and reforms to reduce bureaucracy. We began with Open Skies, and now we're going to Open Seas. I am pleased that there is widespread foreign interest in the tenders we're about to publish today. It shows that there is interest in Israel."

Minister of Transport Yisrael Katz said, "This project will not come from the state budget. Israel Ports Development & Assets Company Ltd. will raise the capital. I would like my pension to be invested in a port whose receipts are guaranteed over 20-30 years. There will be no haircut here. Another thing: rates will not be raised, and there will be nothing to prevent the reduction of fees, such as the reduction planned for 2018. This afternoon, it will be decided which of the seven companies in the prequalification stage will advance to the next stage."

Minister of Finance Yair Lapid said, "The most prominent thing about this government is that we're here to work. We passed Open Skies. Ten days ago, we discussed the gas revolution. Two days ago, the Knesset passed in its first reading the bill on competition in the food industry, which will save consumers money, and yesterday, the Attorney General approved the Perry Committee recommendations, saying that this is a historic change. Today, we are reforming the ports, for which the country has waited 65 years, because we came to work. This is a working government. The ports reform will create hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in the Israeli economy - and in the periphery, not in the State of Tel Aviv, from Ashdod southward and from Haifa northward. We are proud of this reform, and we will push it without delay, because as I say for the third time, we came to work."

Histadrut opposition

The Histadrut and the ports' workers committees oppose the plan for the new ports, demanding that the new ports be absorbed by the Ashdod Port and Haifa Port. They have threatened that allowing the operation of private ports would be a declaration of war.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 3, 2013

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2013

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