Lieberman proposes converting offices into housing, opening banking services


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Yesterday, the Ministry of Finance, as part of the process of approving the state budget, presented to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett the main structural changes in the economic program for the period 2021-2022. The program consists of three main pillars: promoting employment and investing in human capital; upgrading the infrastructure; Efficiency procedures in government and regulation. Reducing the cost of living by opening up to imports The program proposes steps to reduce the cost of living by exposing the economy to imports and reforming standards procedures. A product that meets European standards and is sold in Europe can be sold in Israel; Some imports will be allowed into Israel on the basis of a permit; And regulators are obligated to create parallel import routes, without original documentation from the manufacturer. Competition in Banks Finance Minister Avigdor Lieberman is planning legislation to promote “open banking.” One of the main obstacles to increased competition in the banking system, and in financial services in general, is the monopoly of financial institutions on the financial information of their customers. The new law will require financial institutions to transfer information about customers to new technological entities, with the consent of the customer. These new entities will be able to offer customers the financial services they use, exactly how much they pay for them, and how much they can save if they switch to another provider, in effect becoming their personal digital financial advisor. Boosting Employment and Productivity The Economic Arrangements Bill accompanying the budget will set 2030 employment targets for sections of the population with low labor force participation, and will include a comprehensive overhaul of vocational training to improve its quality and make it relevant to the needs of the population. Economy, in cooperation with the private sector. Conversion of offices into housing As part of the policies to deal with the housing market and the cost of housing, it is planned to include the program of “conversion of offices into housing” in the Economic Arrangements Act. Around Israel there are thousands of square meters of office and commercial space that are not expected to be used for these purposes in the coming decades. The proposal aims to allow up to 50% of the planned industrial area adjacent to adjacent residential covers to be converted into small housing units. The Ministry of Finance believes that such a move will significantly increase the economic attractiveness of the exploitation of building rights on the land, including the remaining administrative and commercial areas, will provide a response to the need for public areas, and enable to add to – the market of thousands of housing units annually for young and old in the heart of the areas of high demand. Encouraging Angel Investment in Technology The bill will also include a national plan to encourage growth in the high-tech industry and maintain Israel’s technological leadership. Several steps have been proposed: Validation of the National Artificial Intelligence Program. simplify procedures and remove bureaucratic obstacles to encourage mergers and acquisitions; encouragement of angel investment and tax exemption of interest on a loan from a foreign financial entity; Expand the capabilities of technology companies to expand their base of activity in Israel; Form a team to study the removal of barriers to the growth of the high-tech market; Israel’s participation in the European Research and Development Programme. Approval of a plan to promote technology transfer from universities to industry. Business License There are currently about 190,000 companies in Israel that require a business license. The conditions for obtaining a license are set by seven different regulatory bodies, without association, and without concern about costs. Thus, the licensing process is expensive and time consuming. A business licensing regulatory committee has been proposed. The commission will be mandated to change the requirements for obtaining a license and will work to reduce the cost of requirements and shorten the licensing process, centralizing licensing requirements in accordance with international standards, all while maintaining public health and safety. With regard to environmental regulation, permits issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection will be combined into a single permit valid for ten years without change except in exceptional circumstances. Building permit reform The Economic Arrangements Bill will also include a building permit reform and will provide the possibility of building self-licensing. A building permit is an intermediate stage between planning approval and building on the land. As the State Comptroller recently mentioned in a report, obtaining a building permit in Israel is a very long process and represents a bottleneck in efforts to increase the housing supply. To deal with this problem, the self-licensing bill allows for a path parallel to the regular path of the local building commission. In this track, an experienced architect will be able to sign a building permit in place of the building commission. Permits granted on this route must obtain approval from the Control Institute to ensure the integrity of the structure. Improving Public Transportation The Transportation Ministry is seeking to advance the NIS 150 billion Tel Aviv metro project through a special legal framework that will enable the project to move forward in the time required by its economic goals. Hemp export A ministerial committee that examined the matter found that Israel has a significant advantage over competing countries in the level of research and development, level of knowledge, and regulation in medical cannabis that could make Israeli products a world leader and even an international standard. But due to various obstacles, this potential was not realized. The cannabis export plan aims to remove these obstacles. Government digitization In 2020, Israel slipped to 56th place in the world in the United Nations ranking of digital services, from 40th in 2018. So various changes have been proposed in digitization and government information technology. First of all, the Ministry of Finance proposes to reform e-mail (“zero paper”) – the registration of digital addresses of citizens and companies. The ministry estimates that this will save taxpayers up to NIS 200 million annually and reduce bureaucracy for individuals and businesses. In addition, it is recommended to remove legal barriers to performing actions digitally (“zero rows”). Switching to green energy A mechanism has been proposed that would allow dual large-scale land use for solar and agrovoltaic installations, a planning path that would allow the construction of energy storage facilities nationwide and in a shorter procedure; Increase the availability of land for renewable energy by regulating the removal of unexploded ordnance. In addition, any resident of a multifunctional building has the right to install the charging point infrastructure for an electric vehicle without the need to obtain the consent of other occupants, and all new buildings must have a basic charging point infrastructure; The infrastructure needed to charge electric buses will be developed through an urgent procedure; Tax changes required to transition to electric transport will be examined; Emission reduction targets will be set for importers and manufacturers. The plan also includes energy efficiency measures in government ministries, such as renewable energy, storage facilities and a shift to electric vehicles. There are also proposed measures to make the legal system more efficient, improve conditions in Israeli prisons, and adapt Israel’s firefighting systems to international standards, which the Finance Ministry estimates will save billions of shekels annually to Israeli companies. Published by Globes, Israel business news – en.globes.co.il – on July 8, 2021 © Copyright Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2021


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