Finance Ministry slams Netanyahu's 'populist' coronavirus grants

The sources said the plan does not specify exact criteria for one to be eligible for the grants and is estimated to cost Israeli taxpayers around NIS 1.5 billion ($420 million).

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a speech at his Jerusalem office, regarding the new measures that will be taken to fight the coronavirus, March 14, 2020 (photo credit: REUTERS/GALI TIBBON/POOL)
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrives for a speech at his Jerusalem office, regarding the new measures that will be taken to fight the coronavirus, March 14, 2020
(photo credit: REUTERS/GALI TIBBON/POOL)
Sources in the Finance Ministry slammed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plan to provide families with "coronavirus grants" before Passover, calling it "populist," Walla reported on Wednesday.

"The prime minister announced his plan to give out cash to the citizens, and that it has to be implemented," the sources said. "It is a populist measure, because by no means does it guarantee that those affected by the crisis are the ones to enjoy the money." 

According to Walla, the sources said the plan does not specify exact criteria for one to be eligible for the grants and it is estimated to cost Israeli taxpayers around NIS 1.5 billion ($420 million). The plan reportedly was decided upon without consulting the Finance Ministry.

According to Netanyahu's decision, every family is expected to receive NIS 500 ($138) per child, up to their fourth child. The grants, said Netanyahu, are to be immediately transferred to the family bank accounts. According to the Finance Ministry, the plan cannot be implemented without proper legislation.

On Wednesday, Israeli unemployment rates was estimated at close to a quarter of the state's population, with more than a million registered as unemployed. The rates grew from a mere 4% prior to the coronavirus outbreak.

"We have heard the businesses and are working according to a compensation plan," Netanyahu said in a statement to the press. "Businesses and economies are collapsing all over the world," he continued. 

"In Israel, the situation is better," Netanyahu added. "We can provide that help because our economy is strong. Also on Wednesday, the cabinet approved an NIS 80 billion stimulus package estimated at 6% of Israel's GDP.

As of Wednesday night, more than 6,000 Israelis have tested positive for coronavirus, hundreds are hospitalized, more that 70 are ventilated, and 26 have succumbed to the disease.