Photo Credit: Nati Shohat/Flash90
The empty kitchen of a restaurant on Ben Yehuda Street in downtown Jerusalem, September 23, 2020.

The Knesset Special Committee on the Coronavirus on Wednesday debated the insufficient implementation of government plans to offer grants and discounts to businesses that are struggling due to the corona crisis.

Committee Chairwoman MK Yifat Shasha-Biton (Likud) said the government’s economic aid plan provides “oxygen” to business owners who have been experiencing financial difficulties since the first lockdown. “The government offices, the Tax Authority and the National Insurance Institute are familiar with the businesses’ figures, and there is no need to burden the owners with filling out countless details the authorities already have,” she said.


Shasha-Biton criticized the unnecessary delay in the issuing of regulations for giving grants and discounts on property taxes “while the business owners bleed.” According to her, only 24% of business owners have collected the aid they are entitled to for permanent expenses, 71% have received a discount on property tax, 25% have taken out special state loans; 53% of businesses have collected social aid, and only 4% have collected the employment encouragement grant.

Likud MK Yifat Shasha-Biton speaks during a support rally for her outside her Zichron Yaakov home, August 2, 2020. / Flash90

MK Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid-Telem) brought up the “economic devastation the lockdown will bring,” and said the compensation the state allocated to businesses some six months ago “does not cover the losses and lack of revenue.” People’s “life’s work is collapsing before their eyes,” said MK Razvozov.

Natanel Haiman, head of the Economics Division at the Manufacturers Association of Israel, said the government’s economic plans should be reevaluated and improved in the current wave of the corona pandemic. “Some plans have not been implemented because they are irrelevant, and others must be improved due to bureaucracy,” he said.

Lilach Sapir of the Israel Restaurants Association told the committee that two weeks after the current lockdown has been imposed, the state has yet to introduce a system that allows the shuttered restaurants to receive property tax discounts.

Itamar Gazala, Senior Economist at the Small and Medium Business Agency in the Ministry of Economy, said that beginning Thursday, businesses will be able to submit requests for property tax discounts for the months of May, June, and July via the agency’s website. Last week the agency published the procedure for receiving a grant for keeping workers employed and bringing workers back from unpaid leave, and employers will be able to submit requests for this grant in November.

Ido Sofer of the Finance Ministry’s Budget Division said the Ministry’s website contains information on all the possibilities to receive grants and discounts.

Tax Authority Deputy Director Shlomo Ohayon said the Authority launched a website Wednesday morning where businesses that have recorded a 25% or more decrease in volume can submit grant requests for June and July.


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