Bennett to Netanyahu: Showers of cash won’t turn back COVID-19 by one inch

Netanyahu’s ‘A Check for All’ plan meets fierce criticism, ‘offers immediate aid to those who don’t need any’

Netanyahu and Bennett (photo credit: REUTERS)
Netanyahu and Bennett
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan ‘A Check for each Person,’ offering scaled benefits to all Israelis regardless of income based on the number of people per household, was severely criticized on Thursday.
When presented, it was reported the Finance Ministry is against it, with some officials calling it “throwing bags of money we don’t have to the sea.” The morning after saw more rebukes.
“Showers of money won’t turn back COVID-19 by one inch,” said former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett on Thursday, “we won’t be able to rebuild the economy unless we get coronavirus under control first.”
Bennett attacked the intention to offer benefits until June 2021, or until the country reaches a 10% unemployment rate, saying “people don’t want to get charity, they want to go to work.”
The pandemic led to some sectors, such as tourism and events halls, to close almost overnight and to restaurant owners, movie house operators and theaters to face tremendous losses – because they were ordered to close by government decrees.
The confusion about how the virus is spread led to many business owners asking, why close us? Thursday reports suggest the country might be headed to another lockdown soon.
Former Ministry of Finance accountant-general Yaron Zelekha told Radio 103 FM on Thursday that the plan offers “immediate help, to those who don’t need any” due to it dispensing benefits to the rich and poor alike, and warned that this is throwing away the state’s money, leaving nothing to support the small businesses and the self-employed in the future.
The Israel Central Bureau of Statistics (ICBS) reported on Thursday that private consumption fell by 20.9% during the first quarter of 2020 and the import of services and goods dropped by 23.4% when compared to 2019.
Zelekha warned that a “one off grant doesn’t increase consumption,” saying that what people need before they make a purchase is to know they have a steady flow of income.
Netanyahu’s plan was joined by an initiative by Interior Minister Aryeh Deri to ear-mark NIS 300 for food to families in destitution.
The Welfare Ministry already has such a program, with a budget of NIS 20 million, but Shas argued that families will be “humiliated” if they need to seek aid there, the Marker reported on Thursday.