(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon held an emergency meeting in Haifa on Saturday night, to asses the extent of the economic damage caused by the ongoing wildfires through the last five days and coordinate relief efforts and compensation plans for victims.
Following the meeting with representatives from the municipality of Haifa, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Public Security and Ministry of Internal Affairs, Kahlon announced a number of immediate relief measures designed to relieve fire victims.
Families which are still prevented from returning to their homes by the city engineer will receive a one-time payment of NIS 2,500 per person according to the number of family members. Additionally, assessors from the Tax Authority’s Compensation Fund will be deployed around the affected area and will issue appraisals whether the victim has property insurance or not.
Kahlon instructed all parties involved to release budgets in order to assist all the organizations dealing with firefighting and victim relief. In a press release Khalon stated that all the relevant authorities reported that there are no budgetary constraints to deal with this event.
Prior to Kahlon’s meeting, he told Channel 2 News that the finance ministry and its property tax department will be leading the national efforts to compensate and relieve the fire victims, in order to provide them with immediate response. “If there are any disagreements with the insurance companies, we will manage them. People will not fall victim to this event and we will not let them slip between the chairs,” he said.
Following his visit to the Haifa command center on Friday, minister Kahlon announced the immediate activation of the property tax department in order to assist citizens whose homes were damaged by the fires.”The state will take full responsibility on any damage caused as a result of terrorist activity,” he said.
According to Kahlon, the department's assessors will be deployed as of Sunday to appraise the damages in all affected areas. The finance ministry’s director general Shai Babad added that the private insurance companies were also directed to send their assessors to affected properties and start giving out advance payments.
“I call on the private insurance companies to provide victims with the best and immediate service first, and worry about ‘settling the books later.’ At this time all that matters is helping people who have already suffered immensely and there’s no need to burden them further with bureaucracy,” said Kahlon on Friday.