In recent years, the economic hardships faced by businesses in Sderot and the surrounding areas have reached unprecedented levels. Current developments have only worsened these hardships, with severe implications for the local economy.
The consequences have become increasingly apparent in the number of residents leaving the area over the past few days, a sharp decline in business activity, and the increased weight of expenses, interest rates, credit limits and the overall cost of living. These factors pose a severe threat not only to the economic stability and job security of the entire region but also to its social fabric.
Just as the state is committed to protecting residents’ homes by deploying military resources to address the threat of missiles fired from the Gaza Strip, it is imperative that decisive action be taken to address the economic consequences of such threats.
The state must address economic issues
The urgent situation demands practical and immediate measures. For example, a 5% VAT reduction to 12% from the current 17% is vital for the survival of businesses in Sderot and the surrounding area. This is essential to support the struggling business sector and to alleviate the severe hardships dealt to the region’s economy, employment, security and social fabric.
The proposed VAT reduction will focus on strengthening those businesses facing collapse, fostering economic growth, reducing the cost of living and attracting key economic players to the region. It is important to emphasize that the significance of this VAT reduction extends beyond its immediate effects, it would also enable the creation of a fund to stimulate future regional business initiatives, thus ensuring long-term economic growth and stability. The time for action is now. The region may not survive delay.
Additionally, Sderot and the surrounding region urgently need aid and relief to revitalize their economy and ensure the well-being of their residents and their economy.
Our leaders must heed the call of the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce and promptly implement the recommended VAT reduction and accompanying measures. The future of these communities depends on swift action, and our nation’s commitment to their prosperity and resilience must remain strong and stable.
The highly-anticipated first Sderot Economic Conference will be held next month. The conference aims to influence the economic policies of both current and future governments, ensuring that industrialists, business owners and entrepreneurs in the region have equitable access to opportunities that align with both their rights and needs. The conference represents a critical platform for collaboration and offers hope for a brighter future for the region.
The writer is the head of the regulation and international relations department at the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce, which is a partner in the Sderot Economic Conference.