In search of a way out of the deepening recession, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has offered former Bank of Israel Governor Jacob Frenkel the position of finance minister in his next government, which is expected to be sworn in later this month.
Frenkel, who currently serves as chairman of Merrill Lynch International, reportedly conditioned his acceptance on the new government's commitment to advancing the peace process with the Palestinians, reported Haaretz. Frankel also has reservations about entering an extreme right-wing cabinet, rather than a broad-based coalition.
“The minister of finance must have the prime minister’s full backing, not almost,” Frenkel stated, adding that “serious measures and determination were needed to restore growth, in which the government must play the decisive role.”
Last week, Frenkel’s successor on the job of Bank of Israel governor, David Klein, set off a commotion on the market with his statement that there was a chance of policymakers losing control over the economy after two years of economic stagnation. Frankel denied that the economy was in a state of collapse.
However, "Without progress on the diplomatic front, there is no chance at all of rescuing Israel's economy from the deep recession in which it is currently mired," Frenkel said, adding that he did not want to accept the job unless he believed that he had a reasonable chance of succeeding in it.
Although Sharon held marathon talks with Frankel over the past three days, the Prime Minister's Office on Sunday denied offering Frenkel the treasury portfolio in the next government.
An internationaly reputed economist, Frenkel has been Sharon's unofficial economic advisor for the past two years, and is considered the PM’s first choice candidate for the job. Frankel’s apolitical appointment enjoys the support of many in the local business and political communities. — (menareport.com)
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