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New Trade Minister Forecasts Two ‘lean Years’ for Israel’s Economy

At least two “lean years” for the Israeli economy was predicted yesterday by Joseph Saphir, the new Trade and Industry Minister, in an address to the Israel Manufacturers Association. He declared also that the decline in Israel’s dollar reserves “cannot be arrested immediately” but he added that Israel must be alert that “they do not drop below the safety line. Our aim must be to restore reserves to the safe level by 1972.”

He renewed a proposal which he had made frequently in previous years that the Government sell to private owners abroad some of its enterprises. He also indicated that the Treasury would give more long-term loans from the development budget to industry,

In a related development, the Alignment committee on economics decided last night that wage policies for the coming year will be decided by a group to be named by the committee. Views on wage levels were reported to range from those of the Manufacturers Association whose members are willing to grant pay increases of around five percent to those of the leftist Mapam. which is demanding increases ranging from 10 to 15 percent. Officials said the issue must be decided by Jan. 15 when the semi-annual consumers price index is published, which is the basis for cost-of-living allowance adjustments now added to all salaries in Israel. The issue of retaining the automatic linkage is one of the problems which will be considered, the officials added.

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