JERUSALEM (Feb. 20)
Finance Minister Levi Eshkol, winding up debate in Parliament on the Government’s new economic policy, said last night that some commodities would be entirely exempted from import licenses.
He also reported that a free market in foreign securities would be maintained not only for Israelis receiving restitution payments from West Germany but also for Israeli residents generally. He said, however, that Israelis will not be allowed to transfer such securities from the country. He also said that henceforth blocked accounts of non-residents Will be abolished and holders may sell their accounts in the free foreign security market.
Replying to critics who charged that the three Israeli pounds to the dollar rate was too low, the Finance Minister said that a higher rate of exchange would have involved the danger of a too rapid influx of conversions of foreign currency into the Israel economy. This, he asserted, would have forced a general price rise.
He predicted that the Israeli standard of living would not be lowered by the devaluation. He also expressed the hope that the devaluation would slow down the upward trend in prices which for the past five or six years had averaged a five to six percent increase annually. He admitted the Government had made a “psychological error” in raising the price of fuel but added this was rectified by restoration of the pre-devaluation price.