Since the new government is preoccupied with judicial reform initiatives, small businesses have been forgotten, according to Roi Cohen, head of Lahav.
Lahav is an organization that assists small businesses and self-employed service providers. Cohen told Maariv that the new government promised Lahav that they would discuss the rapidly rising cost of living, but they forgot about it and are dealing with other procedures. He further claims that he understands the protesters, but small businesses don't have the privilege of closing up so that they can go and demonstrate. Cohen stated that the preoccupation with the judicial reform has gone out of proportion. Things are running amok and into chaos so the business sector and the small businesses that are moaning about rising interest rates and the cost of living are in despair.
Israel's small businesses have been forgotten
Cohen emphasized that because the government's first priority is the legal reform, small businesses have been forgotten. When there was no functioning government for three and a half years, it was understandable. But the new government promised to address the cost of living, the business property tax and accelerated depreciation and to encourage small businesses. Instead, all the small businesses got from the government were legal procedures.
There could be an economic catastrophe as a result, he said. There's zero preparation in terms of laws and regulations since it's not clear what will happen after an earthquake occurs here, for example. There are no compensation regulations and/or social safety nets for the self-employed. They'll be forced to take to the streets.
The challenges facing small businesses
Cohen explained that small business owners wake every morning and go to battle. They're dealing with a double-digit interest rate, which reduces the chances of each business surviving. Cash flow makes it very difficult. There's a big question mark on regulatory issues. He's worried about the fate of these businesses.
Asked what the government should do, Cohen added that Lahav hasn't had even one government meeting that talked about the cost of doing business.
Addressing the government, he said, "be proportionate and deal with life itself."
The whole obsessive preoccupation with legal reform to get credit, he said, has been blown out of proportion. It causes daily life to fall to the margins of things. The direct survival of businesses is neglected.
Cohen understands those fighting the legal reform who are afraid for the fate of democracy. He's not there, though, and he won't go out to demonstrate. Lahav's members don't have the privilege to strike.
Cohen added that small businesses struggle to stay open; if they shut down there's no compensation. But if Lahav's members see that even after 3.5 years of the government not doing anything for business such as, for example, preparing for earthquakes, the only option will be to take to the streets to demonstrate.
Cohen talked about the need for urgent discussions regarding business inventory, current payments, accelerated depreciation, recognition of car expenses, lowering corporate taxes and reducing property taxes for businesses.
He stated that there's a 40% drop in incoming tourism, especially in Jerusalem, but the government is considering canceling the VAT exemption for tourists. These are topics that should be addressed as soon as possible, but unfortunately, the politicians think that there's no public interest in this issue so they put it at the bottom of the list of priorities.
The Knesset's Economic Committee is expected to discuss the cost of living and the competition between retail chains. The issue of aid to the self-employed and small businesses won't be on the agenda, it seems.