North leads nation in bounced checks [pg. 17]

October 4, 2006 22:55

2 minute read.

The North led the country in the number of checks bounced in August with twice the national average of penalized accounts per capita, Business Data Israel-coface said Wednesday, attributing the region's relatively high rate primarily to the war. "Beyond damages [caused by] the war, clearly visible in the state of communities in the North, the results of the research emphasize, yet again, the large disparity between economically established communities and weak ones," said BDI co-CEO Tehila Yannai. For example, she said, Nazareth has five times the number of limited accounts per capita than Ra'anana. Limited accounts are those that have been penalized once at least 10 checks have bounced, BDI noted. Clients with such accounts may not withdraw cash and may not open checking accounts. "The high number of bounced checks is a negative indicator showing difficulties in a business's liquidity, and is liable - at a high probability - to lead to its closure," BDI said. The study corroborated a report by the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry released in late August that found that the commercial banks had ignored Banking Supervisor Yoav Lehman's war-time instruction to show flexibility to customers in the North as a measure of relief during the crisis, and had toughened loan conditions despite government guarantees. The ministry stressed in its report that the findings contradicted statements to the contrary by bank CEOs. Of the limited accounts, about 15 percent belong to businesses and 85% to private customers, BDI estimated. Nazareth had the worst credit among Northern cities - and among all Israeli communities examined in the study - with 63 limited accounts per 1,000 residents. Kiryat Shmona followed with 62 per 1,000 residents; Rosh Pina with 58; Afula with 57; Tiberias with 53; Acco with 49; and Safed with 45. At the other end of the spectrum, Ra'anana had the best credit among the communities included in the study, with only 13 limited accounts per 1,000 residents - half the national average - followed by Rishon Lezion and Rosh Ha'ayin with 16; Ramat Hasharon with 17; and Kiryat Ono with 17.5. While in Israel as a whole, there were 26 penalized accounts per 1,000 residents, there were 52 per 1,000 residents in the North; 33 per 1,000 southerners; 26 per 1,000 residents of Jerusalem and environs; 22 per 1,000 residents of the Center and 20 limited accounts per 1,000 residents of the Sharon. Jerusalem itself counted 45 limited accounts per 1,000 residents, while Tel Aviv counted 38; Beersheba 36; Eilat 35; Kiryat Gat 33; Sderot 28; Ashkelon 26; and Beit Shemesh had 21 limited accounts per 1,000 residents.

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