The Israel Manufacturers' Association is urging the director-general of the Prime Minister's Office, Raanan Dinur, to take advantage from the current cease-fire to ease the plight of factories and industry in the Sderot area with an assistance program before Kassam rockets begin falling again.
"The Kassam rockets will be back sooner or later and I am urging Dinur to use this temporary period of calm - if it continues - to provide the factories in Sderot and near Gaza with an urgent assistance package, which would help them out of their plight," said Yehuda Segev, director-general of the Israel Manufacturers Association.
"The security situation in Sderot and the area surrounding Gaza has over the past six years badly damaged the operations of the factories in the area and caused over NIS 50 million in direct damages to date."
In a letter sent to Dinur, Segev emphasized that the capability of the factories in Sderot and Gaza to cope with the difficulties of the security situation in the area was very much dependent on the willingness of the government to assist them immediately.
The assistance proposal put forward by the Association, recommends the launch of a special investment assistance budget of NIS 50m. for the establishment of new factories and the expansion of existing factories in the area. In addition, the Association is asking for a loan fund, which would be 70 percent secured by the government and provide loans of up to NIS 2m. to industry in the area. The loans would be fixed on the prime interest rate with a grace period of up to one year and taken out for the duration of three years for factories with annual revenues of up to NIS 30m.
In an effort to strengthen employment and workers, the Association is suggesting an increase of tax income benefits for factory employees and Sderot and Gaza area residents from the current tax credit rate of 13% to 25%. Furthermore, a training budget of NIS 10m. for two years should be allocated to assist workers in the industry and for the launch of human capital development programs in a variety of fields.
For the security of the factories, the Association is asking the government for a budget allocation of NIS 200m. to subsidize factories to acquire protection and defense systems such as public announcement systems and beeper in areas where the "red color" warning is not heard.