Parliament Hears Report on Negev’s Natural Resources; Development Plan Outlined

Establishment of a central government agency for research and development of the natural resources of the Negev, Israel’s southern desert, was announced to the Israel Parliament today by Finance Minister Eliezer Kaplan.

While the new Government agency will seek to encourage private investment in Negev projects through participation in “daughter companies” in which the government and private capital would be partners, the Finance Minister stressed that the government will keep control of all natural resources.

He reported that research to date showed the Negev to be “much richer than we estimated.” Two agencies have already been established to exploit Negev potentialities, he said, one for phosphates and one for kaolin. Negotiations are now proceeding, he said, for establishment of basic industries in the Negev.

The Finance Minister warned that the world situation is gravely affecting Israel’s economy and the country is therefore compelled to take urgent measures to become more or less self-sufficient. This, he said, was a matter of life and death for Israel. He confirmed reports that the government had asked the Export-Import Bank for a further loan of $35,000,000.

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