The risk rating for small businesses in the North fell by two percent on average during the first eight months of the year in comparison with the same period in 2005, as risk "peaked" in the South, according to a survey carried out by the Authority for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and business research firm BDIcoface. "The impact of the war has yet to find expression in the risk rating, which is why it appears at first glance that the war did not hurt small businesses in the [North]. On the basis of [figures for] the whole 2005 year one may estimate that the level of risk in the North will rise, once the whole year of 2006 is examined," said Eli Bentata, the authority's deputy director. In the Golan Heights and the Upper Galilee, the risk index fell to 6.38 from 6.55; in the Northern Valleys, the Kinneret and the Lower Galilee, the risk fell similarly to 6.38 from 6.56; and in the Haifa area, the Krayot and the Western Galilee, the index fell to 6.21 from 6.43. In Tel Aviv and the Center, the risk rating fell to 5.69 from 5.97; in the Sharon and coastal plain it sank to 5.8 from 6.01; in Jerusalem and environs the index fell to 6.23 from 6.39; and in the Shfela and southern littoral it fell to 5.89 from 6.09. In the Negev and the Arava region, in contrast, the risk index rose to 6.73 from 6.49 a year before. "The data are an important indication that there is a need to provide a regional response to lead change and profound and ongoing treatment for business owners, by expanding the Authority for [Small and Medium-Sized] Businesses in the South as a whole, and among the Beduin population in particular," said Bentata. Separately, Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce President Uriel Lynn called on Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson to "immediately implement the August compensation arrangement," so that the northern businesses affected by the fighting receive payment "already in September." "Delays in payment of the compensation arrangementâ€¦ will hurt many small businesses, and could undermine the [agreement's] central goal - to get the business sector in the North standing again," said Lynn. Delays were occurring despite the fact that the arrangement was made last week under agreement between "all the bodies in the Treasury and parties in the economy," he added.