Antitrust Authority director general Prof. David Gilo today announced his resignation, after the cabinet approved an arrangement for the natural gas industry that Gilo regards as improper. Oil and gas stocks on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) are responding with rises.
Gilo said, "My decision is a result of a number of considerations, most importantly the report that the cabinet, particularly the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of National Infrastructure, Energy, and Water Resources, will do everything they can to push forward the currently emerging structure in the natural gas sector. I am convinced that such a structure will not lead to competition in this important market, and could possibly detract from the independence of the Antitrust Authority, a matter of public importance, and harm its ability to carry out unilateral measures."
Gilo added, "I always believed that it was right to reach an out-of-court competitive solution with the gas companies because of the gas companies' threat to refrain from developing the gas reservoirs if the matter went to court. As is known, in December, I reached the conclusion that the agreed draft order then drawn up would not lead to competition, and I therefore decided not to submit it for court approval. I welcomed the participation of the other government departments in a joint effort to reach a more competitive solution.
"In recent week, I notified the gas partnership and the other government departments that I could not be a party to the recently formulated structure, because I was convinced that it would not lead to competition in the natural gas market."
Gilo further stated, "I believe that had all the government departments remained united behind a more competitive structure, there would have been a reasonable chance of eventually implementing such a structure, whether by consent or unilaterally. It was made clear to me in recent days, however, that the cabinet and the government departments would do all they could to push forward the formula devised by them during this time.
"Furthermore, this question is liable to have far-reaching effects not related to competition, such as in foreign and security affairs and energy independence. These consequences were behind the sincere concerns of the other government departments. I therefore do not think that it is fitting and proper that the regulator responsible for competition to take unilateral measures against the unanimous opposition of the other government departments, without any backing from them.
"I hope that the other government departments change their views about the structure. I will be here for the next three months, and I will be able to help, including possible use of all the authority vested in me, if I have backing from the government departments," Gilo said.
According to Gilo, "I am now finishing four and a half years of work on behalf of competition, the consumer, and uncompromising struggle over the cost of living. This is not over, and there is much work left to do. My main goals when I became Antitrust Authority director general were to make it a proactive agency, and to improve its status as an agency promoting competition and preventing monopolies from abusing their position, promoting legislation to protect the public against damage to competition, and advising government departments about the competitive consequences of their actions. I know that I am leaving to my successors a stronger Antitrust Authority dedicated to keeping watch over competition for the consumer's sake."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 25, 2015
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