Knesset’s crisis response is to create regulatory nightmare

Business sector says it is drowning under a sea of new regulations imposed as populist responses to the economic crisis.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The Knesset has passed too many populist laws that are choking economic recovery, a business official said Sunday.

Since the new government was established five months ago, 70 new laws have been tabled in the Knesset dealing with the coronavirus economic and health crisis, Israel Hayom reported.

The result has been a regulatory nightmare with the public and industry both confused about what the rules are, when and where they apply, and what people have to do in order to comply.

Last week, the government ordered retail centers to remain closed over the weekend to fight a second wave of infection that has seen up to 2,000 new infections in Israel daily over the past week.

Hundreds of stores refused to obey the order and opened their doors, trying to make up for losses from prolonged closures earlier in the pandemic.

“It’s unpleasant to say it, but the politicians have fallen on their heads,” said Shlomi Lavia, legal advisor for the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce.

“Populism celebrates when the Knesset and government support more and more laws that sound very ‘humanistic’ and ‘correct,’ but in the end will lead to a catastrophe, especially in the crisis we are in,” he said.

Lavia said that instead of freezing all such legislation until 2021 so that businesses can recover from the months of shutdown, the politicians seem to be intent on wreaking legislative havoc.

“The employers will collapse and the workers, who want so much to conform to the conditions at their workplace, will find themselves in the end with no jobs,” Lavia said.

Israel Hayom columnist Gilad Zwick noted that when President Donald Trump took office, he brought out a huge stack of papers with all of the laws enacted that affect doing business in order to illustrate the magnitude of the problem in America.

On the other side he placed a much smaller stack of papers as his target to reach by the end of his term, with the goal of cutting eight existing regulations for every new proposed piece of legislation.

Public dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is growing over his handling of the ongoing health and economic crises.

Netanyahu is traditionally known as a free-market capitalist who has privatized public monopolies and has said Israel’s excessive regulations were holding back economic growth.

However, the prime minister appears to be stymied by the complexities of the pandemic combined with the political machinations needed to hold his coalition government together.