Israel Eases Imports to Lower Food Prices

YERUSHALAYIM -
Buying tomatoes at the Machaneh Yehudah market in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Buying tomatoes at the Machaneh Yehudah market in Yerushalayim. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

With Israeli shoppers horrified at a 75 percent hike in the price of fruits and vegetables ahead of the Chagim, the government is taking steps to bring the market under control.

Minister of Agriculture Uri Ariel announced Monday an easing of import restrictions on produce aimed at bringing prices down.

“Ariel instructed the ministry to assure the Israeli consumer has a supply of food that is affordable, fresh, and of a high standard for the upcoming holiday season; he directed the office to allow the duty-free import of tomatoes and cucumbers from across the world, beyond the ongoing import from Jordan,” the ministry said in a statement.

Ariel said, “Unfortunately, there has been a shortage of fruits and vegetables and prices have been rising since the heat wave. This is the reality we are trying to avert, especially ahead of the holidays, and that’s why I directed the ministry officials to make it easier right away to intensively import fruits and vegetables from Jordan and other countries.”

In another effort on behalf of the consumer, Ariel has asked Minister of Finance Moshe Kahlon and the Israel Tax Authority to temporarily waive duties on the import of 10,000 live sheep and 1,000 tons of frozen lamb meat by the end of 2015.

Consumers of electricity had good news on Monday: The Public Utilities Authority announced that electricity rates will come down next Sunday, Erev Rosh Hashanah, by 6.2%.

This is the second cut this year, making an overall rate decrease of 15.6% this year.

The Authority attributed the rate cut to the Israel Electric Corporation’s increased use of coal, which has fallen in price by 17% in the last year. A 5% decrease in the exchange rate and the late entry of renewable energy suppliers to the market also helped.