Ministers agree on Israel Post privatization

Israel Post branch   credit: Shutterstock
Israel Post branch credit: Shutterstock

Minister of Communications Shlomo Karhi has reached understandings with Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich that will allow the process to move forward.

The privatization of The Israel Postal Company Ltd. (Israel Post) is a process that has been going on for many years, but it was meant to reach the final straight in the near future. Recently, however, Minister of Communications Shlomo Karhi has imposed several delays, chiefly a demand that any closure of a post office branch should be reviewed by him personally. Karhi claims that the chairperson of Israel Post, Mishael Vaknin, is closing branches in the periphery of the country.

These delays led senior Ministry of Finance officials (the director general, the budgets commissioner, and the accountant general) to write to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling on him to intervene to remove the obstacles and restore certainty to the privatization process.

Karhi and Minister of Finance Bezalel Smotrich have now reached agreement on a program of branch closures and a recovery plan, which is vital if privatization is to be accomplished. The Ministry of Finance will also not oppose the removal of Vaknin as chairperson, and Karhi will be able to appoint a new chairperson, who will be the last on behalf of the state before privatization takes place.

In the past few days, the Ministry of Finance has held up money earmarked for the recovery plan, which led the ministers to meet yesterday evening and agree on the continued flow of cash in return for the withdrawal of objections to the privatization of Israel Post.

Under the agreement, in the hearing before a license is awarded to whoever buys Israel Post, the setting of quality criteria before closure of a branch will be considered. Such criteria will take into account the needs of outlying settlements and of weaker sections of the population.

Karhi said in a statement: "I am committed to the privatization only for the sake of improving service to the public and if it takes account of the periphery and weak sections of the population that need postal services and the Postal Bank. Adding quality criteria to the license as a condition for closing branches, transferring powers to the minister responsible for postal services before and after privatization, and at the same time continuation of the hearing for the removal of the company’s chairperson, will ensure that the weak will not be harmed and that the privatization process will go full steam ahead for the benefit of all of us. I thank minister Dudi Amsalem and minister Bezalel Smotrich for their cooperation for the sake of the entire public."

Published by Globes, Israel business news - - on July 3, 2023.

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2023.

Israel Post branch   credit: Shutterstock
Israel Post branch credit: Shutterstock
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