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Propose Five-year, Half Billion Dollar Development Plan for Negev

A five-year plan for the Negev, which envisages a population of 100,000 by 1964, was unfolded here today at the fourth session of the Government Technological Advisory board.

The plan would require an investment of 900,000,000 pounds ($500,000,000), of which 500,000,000 pounds would come from Government and Jewish Agency sources and the remainder coming from amortization funds and profits already accumulating from development enterprises in which the Government has 200,000,000 pounds invested.

The Director General of the Ministry of Development, Mr. Menahem. Bader, who disclosed the details of the plan, called for top priority to be given the development of the Negev, which he called the “treasure house” of the State’s resources.

He said that last year’s gross profits from development enterprises neared 30,000,000 pounds. This year’s profits were expected to reach 40,000,000 pounds, the Director General said. High dividends were expected from the Electric Corporation and Fertilizers and Chemicals of Haifa. The potash works, which until two years ago was in the red, has realized a two-million pound profit since then. The southern port of Eilat already accounted for two-thirds of the country’s crude oil imports, Mr. Bader declared.

Development Minister Mordechai Bentov told the session that Israel was no longer an underdeveloped country but had the highest per capita income in Asia–over $800 annually as compared to $120 annually in Japan.

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