IDF soldiers marching in Second Lebanon War 311 (R).
(photo credit: Ho New / Reuters)
Members of the Knesset State Control Committee urged the government on Wednesday
to come up with a plan to encourage small and medium-sized businesses to employ
The meeting was scheduled after the state comptroller’s
office raised concern in December over the difficulties reserve soldiers face in
finding employment. A recent survey conducted by human resources firm Oketz
Systems found that 55 percent of businesses prefer not to employ
Committee chairman Ronnie Bar-On (Kadima) urged Industry,
Trade and Labor Ministry director-general Sharon Kedmi to formulate a
compensation plan for unemployed reserve soldiers within two months, and also
called on Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Independence) and Finance Minister Yuval
Steinitz (Likud) to participate in solving the issue.
Bar-On pointed out
that the state comptroller’s office had also identified deficiencies in the
government’s assistance program for small and medium- sized businesses, and
called on Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Shalom Simhon (Independence) to
pressure Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) to approve reforms to business
Kedmi told the committee that a bill initiated by his
ministry aimed at increasing government assistance to small to medium-sized
enterprises would be passed by the cabinet in the coming days and sent to the
Knesset for a first reading before the end of the current winter session. He
said that progress was being made in talks between the ministry and the
Histadrut labor federation on assistance for struggling businesses, but added
that the Treasury and Defense Ministry were still at odds over how to assist
business owners who serve in the IDF reserves.
IDF chief reservist
officer Brig.-Gen. Shuki Ben-Anat proposed that the government offer income-tax
reductions to businesses who employ reservists and to business owners who serve
in the reserves themselves. He suggested that the reduction be determined
according to the number of reserve days the business owner or his employers
serve each year.
Avi Sayag, the chairman of a group representing reserve
regiment and brigade commanders and pilots, accused the IDF of not providing
data on reservists to the Treasury, and called on governmental institutions to
assist reservists by granting them credit points. He said the National Insurance
Institute had already committed to delivering payments to independent business
owners who serve in reserve duty.
But committee member Marina Solodkin
(Kadima) said that “due to the minister having time and the reservists lacking
money,” reservist soldiers should take immediate action and petition the High
Court of Justice on the matter.