Despite sharp opposition by Israeli contractors and developers, the housing cabinet approved Monday a decision to allow foreign construction companies to operate in Israel. The plan was advanced by Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and will be modeled after an existing agreement with Turkish construction company Yilmazlar.
Under the plan, the foreign firms will not operate independently in Israel, instead importing crews from abroad to work as subcontractors for the domestic companies.
According to the decision, a pool of six foreign firms with experience in the residential construction sector and solid finances will be selected by tender. The pool will operate over five years, during which the foreign firms will be allowed to bring up to 1,000 employees from abroad for wet works projects.
“The construction companies will only operate in Israel as subcontractors and through joint ventures with Israeli groups,” theresolution states.
It further calls for enforcementof Israeli law on the foreign firms including labor laws for employers of foreign employees in order to assure the rights of the foreign workforce and the quality of the work.
While the contractors are opposed to the Ministry of Finance decision, the Bank of Israel backed the move on Sunday. “The Bank of Israel supports the plan to bring international construction companies to Israel, which was presented by the housing cabinet last year, in order to helpshorten construction periods,” said the bank.
“Unlike the import of foreign workers without a corporate framework, international construction companies will contribute to improving construction techniques and increasing efficiency, in a manner that will positively influence both productivity and compensation of Israeli construction workers all without the social consequences of inviting foreign workers.”
“A revolution in perspective”
Another decision approved by the housing cabinet is a proposal by Minister of Construction and Housing Yoav Galant on creating a new tender framework to connect between the planning phase andthe construction phase; providing grants to companies that utilize industrialized construction; training workers; and fully adopting European construction standards.
According to the decision, the government will encourage the use of new construction technologies and provide grants and loans to contractors for procuring equipment to industrialize construction.
Meanwhile, it was decided to establish a center for construction to promote professional techniques and raise awareness of the benefits of industrialized construction. In cooperation with the Ministry of the Economy, deadlines will be set to advance the industrialization of the field with 3,500 workers, 2,500 supervisors, and 500 crane operators.
Minister Galant said: “The new industrialization plan is a revolution in how we see the construction sector in Israel. After decades, we are leading significant changes throughout the sector, from building methods to manpower to regulation. In Israel, it takes 15 long years to build a neighborhood. The new methods will shorten the process by half and bring greater efficiency and more savings for prospective home owners.”
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 8, 2016
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