CEO of the Israel Consumer Council, Adv. Ehud Peleg, said in response to the economic measures decided upon by the Government, that the Government could ease the economic burden of its austerity measures, if it were to immediately carry out complementary consumer measures, some of which were also included in the recommendations of the Trajtenberg and Kedmi committees*.
“The Government should show the same resolve and speed with which it acted to refill the public coffers in also ensuring the benefit of consumers,” said Adv. Peleg.
The Consumer Council CEO added that what is necessary is to take action against misconduct affecting consumers, and to reduce excessive payments imposed on the public.
Among items that have a serious negative effect, the Council CEO listed the high levels of interest and fees charged by the banks, as a result of the Bank of Israel not intervening in these areas; the enormous loss of money due to placement of pension savings in non-optimal investment frameworks; errors running into the hundreds of millions in accounts sent to consumers; the lack of baseline products at controlled prices in all the basic food categories; the absence of controls on the outrageous sales margins for fruits and vegetables; the fact that tens of thousands of consumers who have purchased vacation units are locked into high annual maintenance and management fees; and so on.
Adv. Peleg estimates that the monetary value of these items that negatively affect consumers totals billions of shekels per year. Carrying out the necessary governmental actions to prevent this damage to consumers would not affect the economic measures that the Government has recently approved. On the other hand, reducing the burden on consumers of unnecessary payments would make it easier for them to absorb the economic measures.
Adv. Peleg warns that, should these measures not be carried out immediately, the public would be left with no other choice than to reduce consumption. This would not only affect businesses, which would face economic difficulties, but would also impinge on the level of direct and indirect taxes collected by the State, effectively preventing the Treasury from achieving its goals of increasing State revenues.
* The Trajtenberg Committee was a commission appointed by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2011 in order to examine and propose solutions to Israel's socioeconomic problems, following the housing protests in the summer of that year. The Kedmi Committee was an inter-departmental committee charged with examining prices and competition in Israel's food and consumer goods market.