The progress of the Palestine Economic Corporation was described by Bearuand Flerner, president of the Corporation at a meeting of stockholders held in New York preliminary to the annual meeting of the corporation in Portland, Maine.
Mr. Flexner pointed out that the contribution of the work of the Corporation had been primarily in method of operation and that it was only from this standard that its work was to be evaluated. First of all, the facts relaning to the various industries and projects in Palestine were investigated before any loans were guanted. Contact was established with the Government departments and with public and private agencies in Palestine who have been doing similar work. To considerable degree duplication of activities had been prevented.
One outcome of the Corporation’s (Continued on Page 4)
work has been a series of valuable reports on various industries. Harry Viteles’s reports on the orange and grape industries have recently been published. The Palestine Endowment Funds, Inc, and Samuel Zemurray assumed the expense of a field inquiry and report on banana cultivation in Palestine, by George M. Odlum, one of Mr. Zemurray’s experts. This banana report has just been re-published for wide distribution in pamphlet form by the Department of Agriculture of Palestine, he stated.
At the time of the merger the Corporation took over assets valued at $927,069. As of December 31, 1928, the assets had increased to a total of $1,938,599. When the program of work recently approved by the Executive Committee will be carried out the total of investments and commitments in Palestine would amount to $2,300,000.
Mr. Flexner referred to the small losses suffered so far in the work of the Central Bank, in its grant of short term credits and the relatively low rate of delinquencies in the mortgages of the Palestine Building Loan and Saving Association, now known as the Palestine Mortgage and Credit Bank, Ltd.
With reference to the loss on the “Consortium loan to the Solel Boneh, Mr. Flexner pointed our that $25,000 advanced to the Workers’ Bank for this purpose had been repaid when due, and that another $25,000, it was expected would be recovered from the sale of machinery and other assets which had been pledged to the “Consortium.” The balance of about $25,000 had been written off the reserve for contingencies.
He referred to the Corporation’s purchase of land in the Haffa Bay area to prevent the land from falling back into the hands of the Arab land owners.
Felix M. Warburg in addressing the meeting said : “As chairman of the Joint Distribution Committee. I want to say that this is one of the activities that we have been connected with that we point to with the greatest of pride because we have shown, I think that business methods and sensible investigations will bring the same results in Palestine as anywhere else. We have had hardly any losses in Palestine and we have worked on practically every branch of industry that the country needs.”
Mr. Warburg presented data in support of the statement and said that the foundation had been laid for future work. After referring to Lord Melcherr’s plans and the necessity of cooperation with him to bring about elimination of duplication in personnel and in work Mr. Warburg spoke of the loan to the Soled Boneh, saying that, “We went into that with our eyes open It was an enterprise upon which many people relied. We knew that we should risk this amount for the sake of salvaging this venture. We took our chances We lost part of it. There is a scheme of getting more of it back. If we lost it, it was not because of lack of judgment.”
After the reading of the Treasurer’s report, Mr. Julius Simon, a member of the Executive Committee of the Corporation, described its work with reference to the Haifa Bay transaction, and also discussed the work of the Corporation in its building loans.
Mr. Simon said, that for the first time in Palestine, the Haifa Bay matter, a land policy can be developed which has as its prime object the benefit of the Jewish population as a whole, and it is the first time that the Jewish National Fund has cooperated with an institution like the Palestine Economic Corporation. He further stressed the fact that the Corporation. in obtaining this land had gone about the matter as a sensible business man goes about similar matters elsewhere. That is to say, the books of the Company are examined to find out the costs, expenditures made and obligations. The condition of the soil was examined to ascertain what it was fit for.
Judge Julian W. Mack, Dr. Lee K. Frankel, Mr. Louis Marshall, and Mr. Samuel C. Lamport, expressed their approval of the work the Corporation had been doing in Palestine.