MQG donors make a difference!
We thank you for the donation you have made to The Movement for Quality Government’s (MQG), which allows us to focus and expand our work in all the fields in which we are active, in striving for a cleaner, better Israel.
Where does your money go? We are pleased to present to you a short update of our activities over the past few months, including our battles and achievements in the movement’s special projects: economic activity, the struggle against market concentration, defence of whistle blowers in the public sector, municipal activity, policy and legislation, and public protest.
Our designated projects allow us to extend our activities in specific areas, in order to provide an added value in the effort to make a cleaner and better Israel.
Hereby is a brief review listing of our activities, campaigns and achievements during the past few months (as of March 2015):
Campaign against market concentration
Protection of the public sector’s whistleblowers
Policy and legislation
Our work has encompassed a range of economic issues and their impact in various different sectors: exposing crony capitalism, the under-priced sale of state assets and natural resources, undeserved appointments, transparency, and propriety in decision making processes, all of which have direct implications on the efficiency of government and the saving of public resources as well as officials’ responsibility for public funds.
Here are a few examples of events in the past few months as a sample of our activity:
Bank Leumi fined in the USA: will the public pay? Bank Leumi was embroiled in a tax-evasion affair in the United States and received a fine of NIS 1.4 billion after an investigation revealed that the bank helped its clients evade tax payments. As the result of a decision taken by the director a decade ago, the bank’s managers are entirely immune and are exempt from personal accountability. Recently it has even been alleged that it may ultimately fall not only to the banks’ customers to bear the burden of the fine, but to the Israeli taxpayer. The Movement appealed to supervising bodies and demanded that a comprehensive investigation take place concerning the bank’s management. In January 2015 it was published that the Attorney General has indeed begun an examination of the matter, and that he will also review the conduct of the Banking Supervisor in this affair.
The Gas Monopoly: Following a lengthy and trying struggle by the Movement, the General Director of the Israel Antitrust Authority (IAA) decided in December 2014 to act to break up the intimidating gas monopoly! The Movement entered a broad struggle following the granting of holdings in the Leviathan gas fields to the Delek Group (belonging to Yitzhak Tshuva) and Nobel Energy. These companies would receive a 90% share of Israeli gas reserves for 30 years, a decision with momentous influence on the entire Israeli economy. This is an immense achievement, though the battle is far from over. In February 2015 the Movement approached the General Director and demanded that the announcement of the decision concerning the gas monopoly as a binding arrangement not be delayed. Accordingly, we are acting to create transparency in the course of the hearings taking place against the gas companies. In January 2015 the Movement petitioned the High Court of Justice against the Minister for Energy to ensure that he implements the requirements of the law and that, in his decision making process concerning gas exploration, he considers market concentration, in order that the interests of the public are safeguarded over those of tycoons.
The Housing Crisis: The movement approached all party leaders and demanded that they adopt the recommendation of the State Comptroller’s report with regard to the housing crisis, a report that should constitute a wake up call to elected representatives. The Movement demands that parties assimilate the report’s conclusions into their platforms and give them a great deal of consideration during the signing of coalition agreements.
Economic Disgrace: After the haircut, Yitzhak Tshuva continues to raise public funds Following a haircut in which NIS 1.4 billion of public pensions and savings were written off, Yitzhak Tshuva proceeded to attempt to raise public funds once more. The Movement began a public battle and immediately approached the institutional bodies managing public pensions and savings, demanding that they cease the investment of public money with Yitzhak Tshuva, who has already proven that he has no problem with ‘restructuring’ and the writing off of public funds. It is the opinion of the movement that anybody who has been granted a restructuring at the public’s expense should be ‘economically blacklisted’ and banned from being in further contact with public funds.
Policy and Legislation Department
The policy and legislation department focuses its attention on the fields at the heart of the MQG’s activity, including among others: proposing the law for the dismantling of market concentration, promoting lawful public administration and transparency, preventing conflicts of interest, supporting whistle blowers, protecting the institutions of democracy, and the denunciation of conflicts of interests whose roots lie in improper crony capitalism.
Proposed laws and matters promoted and set in motion by the MQG in the 19th Knesset prior to the announcement of the forthcoming elections:
- Two proposed laws for the extension of protection for whistle blowers, the first of which received final authorization and the second of which passed several stages of discussion.
- Amendments to the Public Service Law (the ‘Cooling Law’) in cooperation with the Chairman of the Lobby for the Battle against Corruption, Mickey Rosenthal MK.
- The proposed law for the doubling of the banning period for convicted members of government passed several stages of discussion.
- The proposed company law amendment: limitations on directorial appointments.
- Safeguarding early legislative processes relating to agricultural produce.
- Activity concerning the establishment of an ethical code for Members of Knesset and government.
- Promoting the execution of the Integrity Law in public service.
Protecting Whistleblowers in the Public Sector
Whistleblowers are good people and dedicated workers who are simply unable to contend with corruption or turn a blind eye to it; with uncommon courage, they turn to auditing or law-enforcement bodies to report suspicions of corruption within the public authority in which they are employed. On account of this, a great number of them are made to pay a high personal cost, which can at times include violation of the terms of their contracts, termination and harassment, among others. It is our duty as a society to defend and express our gratitude towards them, and above all, to prevent a state of affairs in which people bow their heads and fear exposing corruption.
An example of the backing and aid provided to one whistleblower out of the many supported by the Movement: the Taxes Authority whistleblower, Rafi Rotem.
In January 2015, after years of the Movement accompanying Rafi Rotem in his battle for acknowledgement as a whistleblower and the addressing of his complaints, Rotem finally received, following a decade of struggle, a protection order from the Attorney General, who also announced he would investigate some of his claims. Additionally, the Movement granted Rotem the 2014 Quality Government Hero Award.
Local councils are the main service providers for citizens. Deficient management of local councils, then, leads to considerable, deep damage to the welfare and health services, infrastructure, and education provided to the public. Major shortcomings in local government also penetrate government on a national level, in that heads of local councils remain a necessary source of support for those seeking election to the Israeli legislative body. More than 60% of our activity is dedicated to work in this field. Below are some examples of our activity in the past few months as a sample of our work:
Upper Nazereth: In February 2015 the mayor of Upper Nazereth, Shimon Gapso, was found guilty of accepting a bribe. A number of weeks later, as the suspension period for the grave indictment against him was coming to an end, the Movement immediately approached the Attorney General, demanding that he present a request to the suspension council for the lengthening of Gapso’s suspension. In the wake of the Movement’s request, the Attorney General acted accordingly.
Ashdod: The chairman of the workers’ council of Ashdod, Iris Naftali, was found guilty in February 2015 of four counts of breach of trust. Despite this, she continues to work at Ashdod town hall, managing public funds. In light of this, the movement urgently contacted Ashdod municipality, demanding that Naftali stand trial and receive an effective sentence that will lead to the termination of her employment there.
Kiryat Yam, Ar’ara, Gilboa Regional Council, Safed, Eilabun, Tira and Tel Mond: After the movement conducted an extensive investigation into whether the councils were abiding by the law and publishing a yearly report detailing their activities, management and the manner in which they uphold the freedom of information act, it transpired that dozens of councils did not comply with the law. Through petitions and appeals, the Movement was successful in bringing about the councils’ publication of the various reports as is required by law, though in the case of the aforementioned councils, the Movement was forced to petition the court in January 2015 to obligate them to act with transparency and publish the report.
MQG’s “Legal Hotline”: Every year the movement receives 1,200 complains from members of the public pointing out governmental shortcomings throughout Israel.
Public Protest – the campaigns currently at the heart of our work
Elections 2015: This time, the public will not be satisfied with mere slogans; we demand real commitments: In the run up to the elections, the Movement publicly demanded that the candidates not delude the public, and provide detailed programs and genuine answers to all salient matters instead. The Movement demands that rather than simply discussing the battle against corruption, that parties not sit with convicted criminals, that they finally authorize an ethical code for their behavior, promote transparency in the national budget, demand protection for the public’s natural resources, and an effective and thorough handling of the cost of living crisis through the streamlining of regulations and the dismantling of monopolies. Throughout the election campaign, we have made a special effort to meet with thousands of young people at universities, pre-army Mechinot, youth movements and high schools in order to provide them with the necessary tools for casting an informed vote and finding out the answers they need to their toughest questions.
Out of touch, fed up: no to the raising of MK salaries! A demand to all MKs and elected representatives to refuse a salary raise and to set a personal example during this difficult economic period of cuts and lay-offs. The first stage of the campaign involved a call upon the public, mostly online, to sign a petition supporting this cause. In the next stage we turned to MKs themselves to publicly back the campaign and indeed, forty Members of Knesset expressed open support for the battle. The campaign was finally hailed a success when the Public Committee recommended the cancellation of the linkages that brought about the rise in salaries in 2014. As of March 2015, more than 34,000 people have joined this campaign.
Your backing is not taken for granted and constitutes an unwavering and substantial source of support for the MQG’s work – thank you!