The housing cabinet on Monday unanimously approved Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s plan to consolidate all housing-related government bodies, a step Kahlon has cited as crucial to reforming the housing market.
Under the plan, the Finance Ministry will take control of the Building Planning Committee from the Interior Ministry, and establish a housing headquarters and development council within the Finance Ministry.
“The housing crisis is not a crisis, it is a national emergency,” Kahlon said, calling the consolidation the first steps to dealing with it. “I see the housing crisis as the greatest driver of poverty and am committed to dealing with it.”
Not everyone was happy with the concentration of power, however.
Hadash MK Dov Henin said Kahlon was gutting the regulatory process in favor of a rubber stamp.
“The independence of various planning committees will disappear and will be replaced by a centralized and dictatorial planning system,” he said.
Environmental groups were also displeased.
“Concentration of authority in the Finance Ministry and weakening the regional planning councils indicate a dangerous trend that will speed up irresponsible construction,” environmental group Green Course CEO Mor Gilboa said at a protest outside the ministry, indicating fears that more open and green spaces will be lost to building.
Under Kahlon, the new housing cabinet excludes the Ministry of Environmental Protection.
Separately, the housing cabinet approved 20,000 new units in large projects through the fast-track “vatmal” system, established under the previous government. The units will be built in Kiryat Gat, Netanya, Beersheba, Kiryat Tivon and Tamra.