Businesses Owners: Gov’t Bureaucracy Delaying Corona Grants

YERUSHALAYIM -
A man wears a protective face mask as he walks through the closed Carmel market in Tel Aviv, Wednesday. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

The Knesset’s Special Committee on the Coronavirus discussed on Wednesday 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.

Committee Chairwoman MK Shasha-Biton criticized the unnecessary delay in the issuing of regulations for giving grants and discounts on property tax “while the businesses owners bleed.” According to her, only 24% of business owners have collected the aid for permanent expenses they are entitled to, 71% of them 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.

MK Yoel Razvozov (Yesh Atid-Telem) discussed 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 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.

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.

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.