Hundreds of millions will be allocated to compensate 200 workers who will retire • 800 workers will enjoy protection from dismissal for a decade • Foreign purchasers will be required by Cabinet ministers • Minister Kahlon: "Strengthen competition"
Haifa Port Euphrates // Photo: Hertzi Shapira
NIS billion (at least) - and your Haifa port. The Ministerial Committee on Privatization yesterday approved the privatization of the northern port of the State of Israel, which will compete in the private port currently located in Haifa and is expected to be ready in two years.
The required amount includes capital raising, and any amount that goes beyond the billion shekels will go to the state coffers. The approval of the privatization proposal is a continuation of a document signed by the Government Companies Authority and circulated a month ago to the various government offices. According to the division proposed by the Companies Authority, NIS 400 million will be invested in port development, while giving preference to those with experience in maritime transport. The remainder will be allocated to the retirement arrangements of about one-fifth of the 1,000 port employees today. The remainder of the workers will enjoy protection from dismissal for about a decade. The port of Haifa joins the privatization of the port of Eilat seven years ago and intends to privatize the port of Ashdod.
French naval ship at Haifa port // Archive photo
One of the most sensitive issues in port privatization is the identity of the potential buyer, with an emphasis on China operating at the same time the private port located in Haifa through the SIPG government company. Theoretically, the Chinese will be able to acquire ownership of the original port of Haifa - but the chances are low, as a government-approved document states that foreign companies will be allowed to acquire ownership of the port only with the approval of government ministers and security agencies. Remember, at the end of October, the Cabinet decided to set up a committee on foreign investment in Israel to oversee the foreign capital flowing into the country. One of the reasons for the establishment of this mechanism lies in the skepticism revealed by the Trump administration over the tightening economic ties between Israel and China, despite the initial trade agreement reached with Beijing.
Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and chairman of the Ministerial Committee on Privatization welcomed the privatization decision: "This is a significant move for the Israeli economy to strengthen Haifa port and competition in ports. This move is a necessary move that the government has been promoting for several years. "
Eshel Armoni, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Port of Haifa, added: "This is a historic moment that comes after an intensive two-year work and as part of a long-term strategic process, the purpose of which is to bring Haifa Port to prosper in a competitive environment. As of tomorrow morning, we must work to implement privatization and locate buyers who will leverage Haifa Port in the coming decades. "
Yankee Point, director of the Government Companies Authority, noted that "the decision promotes port reform and will put Haifa Port Company in a sound financial position with the opening of competition in front of the private port."
Coint also referred to the committee's decision to approve a significant move towards the privatization of the Israeli postal company, in the form of the removal of barriers preventing the entry of a private investor into the post office. According to the director of the Government Companies Authority, "This move will significantly contribute to strengthening and improving the service to the civil service of the Israel Post Company".