Comptroller Asks for Timeout on ‘Political Jobs Bill’

YERUSHALAYIM -
Israel comptroller
State Comptroller Yosef Shapira (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

State Comptroller Yosef Shapira stepped into the debate – or rather tried to stop the debate – over a bill to allow former elected officials to be appointed to directorates of state-owned companies.

Shapira sent a letter to Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked asking them not to advance the proposed legislation any further in the Knesset until he can have his say when his office finishes a report on the subject.

The bill, which would allow former ministers, MKs and mayors of big cities to be made heads of state-owned companies, was approved in a preliminary reading in the Knesset plenum on Wednesday, by a vote of 42-25, and must pass two more readings before it can become law.

The opposition has branded it the “political jobs bill,” because it would open up of a major avenue of patronage, enabling candidates to secure valuable appointments based on politcal connections rather than professional qualifications.

“It’s corrupt that the ministers will appoint their friends,” Yesh Atid MK Yael German told the plenum. “It’s corrupt for the Knesset [members] to pad their pockets and the pockets of those who come after them. The directorates will not function well and will be corrupt.”

Coalition chairman David Bitan, who sponsored the bill, denied the charges, insisting that it corrects a situation in which qualified candidates are ruled excluded simply because of their political accomplishments and experience.

“Calling it a political jobs bill is intended to make the public not like the bill,” Bitan said. “All the criticism is demagoguery and is intended to perpetuate the rule of the clerks.”

In the same vein, Jewish Home MK Bezalel Smotrich objected to Shapira’s reference to a “political jobs bill” in his letter. More generally, he said it was improper for the comptroller to inject himself in this way in the legislative process.