JERUSALEM (Oct. 27)
The economic conference here of some 150 Jewish leaders from the United States and other countries on Israel’s future development last night heard reports by Israeli Finance Minister Levi Eshkol and Trade Minister Peretz Bernstein on the financial and economic plans of the Jewish State for the next seven years and on what Israel needs in the way of contributions and investments from the Jewish communities overseas.
Mr. Eshkol told the delegates that Israel needs $125,000,000 a year from Jews abroad in the form of contributions and bond sales, plus direct annual private investments of nearly $50,000,000. In addition, Israel’s economic plans for the next seven years include the payment of German reparations goods to the extent of $60,000,000 a year.
The Finance Minister said that the overall seven-year plan would require a total of $765,000,000 and 1,092,000,000 pounds and would provide for the development of agriculture, irrigation, power resources, mines, manufacturing, housing construction, road building and communications to meet the needs of an estimated Jewish population of 2,000,000 by 1960. It would also cut the foreign currency deficit and make possible the establishment of 42,000 families in 200 new agricultural settlements.
RED TAPE HINDERING PRIVATE INVESTMENTS WILL BE CUT
Minister Bernstein described various measures which the government had taken and planned to take to cut red tape hindering investors and told the conferees that “we are seriously endeavoring to reduce the hardships and inconveniences, as far as possible, and to create as speedily as possible a situation in which we will be able to dispense with controls. “
He challenged contentions that the climate for private investment in Israel was not friendly and specifically dealt with criticisms that the government favored Histadrut enterprises over private industry. The present government has been scrupulous in its treatment of both the private and public enterprises, he insisted. He stressed that the more private industry invested in Israel, the less need there would be for Israel to resort to public and semi-public forms of financing.
In an analysis of the future need of investment capital, Dr. Bernstein pointed out that there was plenty of room for investment in the building industry, in citriculture and in manufactured goods for export and for domestic use. In the next two years, he estimated, Israel could use $47,000,000 and 70,000,000 pounds in new investments in such industries as textiles, chemicals, metallurgy and foodstuffs.
In the debate which followed these reports, various American conferees emphasized the importance of private investment and urged the government to make every effort to encourage such investment. Leon Keyserling, one-time chairman of President Truman’s Council of Economic Advisors, who is one of the conferees, declared that everything that he has seen in Israel convinces him that the United States Government must realize that Israel has real democracy and is the greatest stronghold of democracy in the Middle East.
Dov Joseph, Minister without portfolio, outlined the various possibilities for mineral and other natural resources development and then predicted that Israel would be viable within a short time and that its economic independence is assured “if we carry on the job of developing our country unhampered by lack of funds – if we have the implements and financial means to finish the job. Israel’s future and security depend only on ourselves: we in Israel and our loyal Jewish friends abroad, ” he added.