Shmuel Dankner, one of the "business ambassadors" chosen by the government to spearhead Israel's international economic PR campaign, yesterday called the project a "fig leaf of the government's public relations program, which ought to be on a 24-hour-a-day basis, every day of the year."

Dankner, owner of Dankner Investments, is one of 25 local economic leaders who have been chosen to participate.

At yesterday's project launch, Foreign Minister Shimon Peres said his ministry's public relations budget had almost dried up completely. Dankner, in response, said this does not reflect well on the government's priorities. "Each one of us may be good in his own field, but our actions are but a drop in the sea."

Dankner told Peres that the businessmen require a full-time professional staff to assist them with the onerous task of serving as economic ambassadors, otherwise their efforts will be sporadic and disorganized.

The roving ambassadors, described by Industry and Trade Minister Dalia Itzik as the "elite task force of the Israeli economy" includes individuals from sectors such as high-tech, industry, banking, trade, telecommunications, retail and economics.

Included in the group are powerhouses Shari Arison daughter of Ted Arison, Leora Meridor, Galia Maor, Ofer and Michael Strauss, Lev Leviev, Avihu Ben-Nun, Jacob Gelbard, Ami Sagis, Idan Ofer, Jacob Perry, Shlomo Piotrkowsky, Dan Propper, Eli Hurvitz, Yossi Rosen and Elisha Yanai.