'Most firms haven't filed damage claims'

Northern businesses say they are dissatisfied with compensation offer.

Katyusha Karmiel 248.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Katyusha Karmiel 248.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Only about a fourth of the estimated claims for indirect war damage claims by businesses in the North have been filed for the month of July, mainly due to dissatisfaction over the inappropriateness of the deal, The Jerusalem Post has learned. "The main problem is that many businesses were waiting to see what would happen for August, as the July compensation deal was not appropriate for the loss they were struggling to absorb," said Achikam Barlevy, Director of the Galilee Development Company, which oversees 35 Galilee and Golan kibbutzim and manages 11 factories. "Many businesses were hoping that the August compensation package offering a second choice of a package which compensates businesses for lost proceeds would be applied retroactively for the month of July." Barlevy added that although they had started to send in compensation claims from as early as August 8, they had not received any compensation money until today. According to the latest data provided by the Tax Authority, more than 10,000 businesses or 42 percent have until now received their compensation claims out of the 24,000 businesses which have sent in their compensation forms. The Tax Authority still estimates that 90,000 claims in total for indirect war damage to trade, services, industry, tourism and agriculture would be filed. Regarding direct damage claims, the Tax Authority confirmed that over 4,200 families out of the 17,000 who filed compensation claims had until now received full transfer of their claims. "There are a number of businesses which have filed their compensation claims and they have been receiving their money," said Liora Birnhack, Chairperson of the Manufacturers Association in Haifa and the North. "But there are also many businesses who are waiting because they are not sure whether there might be changes in the July deal or they are not sure how to apply for compensation or some businesses are just not ready yet." According to the latest survey by the Israel Small and Medium Business Authority, about 66% of the businesses in the North did not understand the compensation package for July, while 69% asked for assistance in filling in the compensation forms. Under the terms of the new compensation agreement for August, businesses will be offered the choice of two compensation packages. The first will be similar to the July agreement, which compensated businesses on the basis of payment of salaries for absent workers. As for July damages, government, employers and employees will share the cost of the compensation package, except that employers will be expected to share 15% of the cost rather than 27.5% as in July. More importantly though, the Treasury agreed to the choice of an additional compensation package to cover businesses for lost proceeds during the fighting in August, a change which businesses had hoped and are still hoping would be applied retroactively for July. "The July compensation package is not an appropriate compensation formula for the majority of small and medium-sized businesses and for factories, said Barlevy. "There is no reason why businesses should be offered a choice in August but not in July, and I shall push for this demand at the Knesset Finance Committee before the August compensation package is being passed."