The metals and electrical industry dismissed 2,800 employees in the first four months of the year as exports plunged 32 percent and production dropped 20%, the Israel Manufacturers Association said Wednesday. "The situation within the metal and electrical industry is continuing to deteriorate," said Moshe Cohen, chairman of the Metal, Electrical and Infrastructure Industries Association. "By the end of the year, we expect the industry to put another 7,000 workers out of their jobs." In the months January to April, exports in the metal and electronic industry fell 32% in real terms compared with the same period last year and amounted to $1.45 billion, while production declined by 20% during the same time. The industry saw a reduction of $860 million in export deals and sales. In the first four months of the year, exports of metals to the US dropped 71%, to $121m., compared with the same period a year earlier, exports to the European Union plunged 53%, to $166m., exports to Belgium fell 52%, to $53m., exports to Germany declined 52%, to $31m., and exports to China were down 39%, to $17m. "I call upon the government to speed up the start of Israel-based public-private work projects at a volume of $80b., which will be 50% financed by the private sector," said Cohen. "We are talking about investments stretched over the next five years, but they will commence now and could create 16,000 new job opportunities in the sector." The proposed public-private initiatives include projects within the water sector such as desalination plants at a total investment of NIS 9b., financed 60% by the state; transportation projects (roads, railways) at a volume of NIS 13.2b., fully funded by the state; energy projects such as the establishment of four power plants, at a cost of NIS 15b.; and natural gas projects at NIS 1.5b., financed in public-private cooperation. Cohen emphasized that until the start of these projects the government must offer solutions for factories interested in maintaining head count such as sending workers on unpaid holidays programs, which would enable factories to switch to a four-day week.