Lapid approves immediate compensation package for businesses in South

Finance minister says important to move ahead with financial help instead of waiting for end of Gaza operation.

Yair Lapid
Finance Minister Yair Lapid on Wednesday enacted a compensation package for residents of the South, saying it was important to move ahead with financial help instead of waiting for the end of the operation, as in previous rounds.
The package includes a status change for businesses within 7 km. of the Gaza Strip, which will allow them to request compensation from the Tax Authority’s compensation fund through one of three “green” fast tracks, or more detailed, slower “red” track.
The green tracks options are either wage compensation for missed work, compensation for lost business, which will rely on comparisons with sales the previous year, or new expenses incurred as a result of the security situation.
Claimants are set to receive half of their compensation immediately, before their claims are verified.
Hotel, tourist-based and agricultural industries will have separate benefit guidelines, Lapid said.
For those within a 7 km. to 40 km. range of Gaza, compensation will be determined by the collective bargaining deal the Histadrut labor federation negotiated earlier in the month. According to the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, 25,000 businesses are within the 40 km. range of Gaza (about 4.8 percent of all businesses in Israel). Of those, 89% are small businesses with under 25 employees, and 9% are medium-sized with up to 100 employees. Just 2% of businesses there employ more than 100 people.
The Finance Ministry also announced NIS 25 million in aid for reserve soldiers who left a business behind to fight and are not eligible for property tax refunds.
Finance Ministry director Yael Andorn said that the conflict should not affect growth for 2015, but would have a moderate effect on the economy in the short run. The budget, she said, should not be overly stretched because it sets aside funds for emergency situations ahead of time.
In the Knesset Finance Committee meeting on compensation on Wednesday, Labor MK Erel Margalit argued that the operation should be classified as a war in order to automatically provide more compensation.
Committee chairman Nissan Slomiansky pushed back, saying that the state would not be able to afford a compensation scheme if that were the case.