Gov’t to Discuss Emergency NIS 90 Billion Allocation

YERUSHALAYIM -
View of the closed National Insurance Institute branch in downtown Yerushalayim on March 23. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

The government on Sunday night will discuss via phone a law that will allow the spending of an additional NIS 90 billion to assist Israelis in dealing with the coronavirus crisis. The discussion will seek approval of an emergency Basic Law that will allow far greater deficit spending than the current law allows. Once approved by the government, the law will be fast-tracked in the Knesset, so money can be distributed to those in need.

In recent days, the government has promised large sums of money to employees, business owners, and others who have lost their livelihoods as a result of coronavirus-related layoffs and closures. Employees who are on layoffs are eligible for unemployment payments, and the National Insurance Institute (Bituach Leumi) is responsible for those payments. No provision had been made for payments for business owners, but the government has promised them an income stream as well. In addition, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu last week promised to provide NIS 500 per child (up to the fourth child) for all Israeli families to help defray Pesach costs.

The extra government funding has decimated the state budget, which was provisional as it was, and could not be increased without a government to vote on it. The new law will allow the emergency allocation of more money to cover the expenses.

According to sponsors of the law, “the implementation of a Basic Law for an emergency situation is an extraordinary event, and reached the High Court, which adjudicated its legality. But the circumstances that Israel finds itself in today leaves us no choice but to advance this legislation, to help us deal with the fallout from the coronavirus crisis.”