poor 248.88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
The government on Wednesday night pledged an additional NIS 70 million in aid aimed at bailing out the country's non-profit sector, a spokeswoman for Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog announced Thursday.
Just over a month ago, Herzog presented the government with the outline of a program that would help struggling charities and social welfare organizations survive the current economic crisis.
An interministerial committee was then tasked with the goal of creating such a package within 30 days - in order that the funding be included in the 2009 budget. However, at the start of the current budget negotiations the Treasury allotted only NIS 30m. to the project, which was part of the coalition agreement made between Labor and the Likud.
It was only after intense discussions among the Treasury, Herzog and Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini that the slated aid package was increased to NIS 100m.
On Thursday, representatives of some 30 non-government organizations and charities expressed their gratitude to Herzog and Eini for fighting to increase the aid package; however, they expressed concern that only organizations currently providing services to the government would benefit.
"We thank you for all your efforts to provide assistance to social welfare organizations and the third sector," the NGOs said in a statement. "This will not only allow us to continue our activities but will also help our employees keep their jobs and, in turn, keep helping the rest of Israeli society.
"However, we are concerned that this aid package is aimed only at organizations currently contracted by the government for social welfare services, and we want to point out that there are many organizations out there that help regular citizens and residents of this country [which] also need assistance."
Today nearly 85% of the services provided by the Ministry of Welfare and Social Services are outsourced to private organizations, non-profits and the local authorities. With the economy becoming weaker and people earning less, many of these organizations are failing to find adequate funding to provide the same level of service as before the recession.
In addition, the latest statistics show that there has already been a sharp rise in the number of people turning to the social welfare system for assistance since the beginning of this year, and with the Israel Employment Service saying that there could be thousands more job lay-offs in the immediate future, the situation is likely to worsen.