As expected, US Joint Economic Development Group (JDEG) members yesterday announced that Israel had successfully implemented the Ministry of Finance economic plan as promised. Israel is therefore eligible for $9 billion in US commercial loan guarantees. The announcement followed a JDEG meeting.
Ministry of Finance director general Ohad Marani, who headed the Israeli team, told “Globes”, “We received unreserved support from the Americans to continue implementing the reforms. We were told that we’re heading in the right direction. The meeting was good, and the Americans were impressed by the plan and its implementation, especially the privatization of El Al (TASE:ELAL) and the efforts to privatize Israel Electric Corporation. They were also pleased by the pension fund reform.”
US Under Secretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs Alan P. Larson headed the US JDEG team. Other members included representatives from the Department of the Treasury, Department of State, and White House Council of Economic Advisors.
Marani cautioned against a too-strong shekel, and called for an interest rate cut. “I’m concerned about the low shekel/dollar exchange rate and its negative repercussions, especially on industry and exports,” he said. “I’m sure that [Governor of the Bank of Israel David] Klein will adjust his policy, following the approval of the economic plan and the granting of the loan guarantees.”
Published by Globes [online] - www.globes.co.il - on June 19, 2003