Small-business owners may soon see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked and Yamina MK Abir Kara on Sunday announced a plan to reform the business licensing system.
Shaked said the reform, which she intends to sign in two and a half weeks, would reinvigorate the small-business industry, alleviate unnecessary bureaucratic headaches and save business owners tens of thousands of shekels and late nights in despair.
As the cost of living has risen significantly over the past year, the government has scrambled to produce viable solutions to maintain financial stability.
The reform lowers the cost of opening and operating a business, which should lead to a freer market.
“In the State of Israel, when we talk about welfare, there is no welfare without profits,” Kara said. “When business owners are constantly chasing their tails with fees, taxes, signing unnecessary forms; when they are not dealing with quality service at a variety of prices, then every citizen in Israel is hurt. Business owners thrive in a market that is as free as possible. The variety will increase, and the cost [of living] will go down.”
Regulations are expected to be reduced in five areas: imports, food production, leisure, license renewal times and general unnecessary regulation.
In all of these fields, whereas business owners used to need at least two separate licenses with different regulatory authorities, each associated with its own fees, only one will be required now.
In addition, small “leisure” businesses, such as bars, cafes and restaurants, will no longer need to file for police regulation, and the time until license renewal will be increased by five or more years for a range of businesses, including hotels, nursing homes, mikvaot, playgrounds and nightclubs.
Over the course of 10 years, the reform is expected to save business owners about NIS 500 million and 3,800,000 waiting days that would otherwise be spent on unnecessary wait times and fees.
The reforms announced by Shaked and Kara suggest that after their negotiations with the Likud to bring the government down, they have decided to remain and use their current posts to boost their credentials in the public sphere.
“A few months ago, the deputy prime minister [Kara] burst into my office with mountains of binders and told me: ‘Look, there are a lot of unnecessary regulations, and you can [make them disappear like magic] with one of your signatures,” Shaked said. “We have consulted with many government ministries, and we are presenting a revolution in the field. Tens of thousands of businesses that have needed a lot of money and a lot of time will be able to do everything faster, cheaper and simpler.”
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.