Kassam rocket fire costs Sderot industry NIS 40 million

Businesses demand monetary assistance similar to that received by residents in the North after war.

kassam on ground 298.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
kassam on ground 298.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Kassam rocket fire has caused damage of approximately NIS 40 million to factories in Sderot and surrounding areas over the last three years, forcing scores of workers out of their jobs, the Manufacturers Association of Israel said Wednesday. "Over 100 workers have already left the factories and approximately 14 percent of the businesses are planning to relocate because of the attacks," the association said. Manufacturers Association President Shraga Brosh called on Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson and Interior Minister Roni Bar-on to extend the 50% discount in arnona payments offered to Sderot factories and those in the Gaza region through 2007 and 2008. The discount, which has been in place for the last two years, is to be reduced to 25% in January, the Association said following a meeting of the factories in the region. The businesses also are requesting that the government go easy on workers' income tax requirements. In addition, they demanded that between NIS 50m. and NIS 60m. be granted to them from the investment encouragement law and that similar loan agreements be made as those the government signed with businesses in the North after the war in that region. Research of "dozens of factories" in the area carried out by the association showed that 93% suffered from worker absenteeism because of the Kassams. Half of those factories had between 6% and 10% of their workers absent, while 43% had an absentee rate of up to 5% and the remaining 7% had around 11% of the workers absent. The survey revealed that 64% of the factories said customers were not arriving because of the attacks, while 57% were not dealing with suppliers and 54% had lost contact with service providers. Furthermore, 60% had suffered a slowdown in productivity and said that mistakes were being made in production because of the added strain on workers. The Manufacturers Association said the slowdowns caused a decline in local sales for 30% of the companies, while 40% said their exports were hurt.