The Finance Committee Reveals Its Agenda

During the last year, due to the failed attempts to create a government in Israel, the parliamentary committees were inactive; with only the Finance Committee being allowed to continue working in order to deal with issues such as the annual budget and the possibility of having control over the budget permits in case of elections.

However, the epidemic and the economic crisis that followed it, crashed the market by affecting the wages of the work force and especially the independent business owners.

Deputy Oded Forer (Yisrael Beytenu), who assumed the chairmanship of the Finance Committee a few weeks ago, made it clear from the outset that during his term the benefits of the ultra-Orthodox will not be given priority. The new agenda will be based on favoring those who have finished their military or national service, serve in the reserve and participate in the labor market. The second issue that became more important is that of property taxes, a problem that is spreading fear in the hearts of the citizens.

Deputy Forer, due to receiving a lot of chaotic information, demanded that the Ministry of Economy establishes an orderly procedure for the matter of property taxes, for the benefit of individual employers and workers. This way they will know who to go to and how to get their rights.

Deputy Forer submitted a plan to the parliament in which he requests a 20% increase in the financial aid program on top of the 15% which was planned on by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance. From now on, any financing initiative will require the approval of the Committee In and a monthly report will be sent to the committee on how the program will be implemented.

Social aid and support for entrepreneurs

The presented plan aims to help the economy in the following way: social security and help for households in the amount of 22 billion shekels, 11 billion shekels are destined to go to the unemployed, health services and civil protection against the virus. Approximately 41 billion shekels are required for business assistance, and a sum of 6 billion shekels will be designated to boost the economy.
It should be noted that the budget defined in the law includes a grant of 500 shekels per child; in turn, the committee reported that after a discussion with representatives of the Ministry of Economy, it was decided to grant an extra sum, reaching a total subsidy of 950 shekels at least for the retirees. The mechanism for the distribution of the new budget requires separate legislation.

Serving as chairman of the committee for a short period of time only and in a crisis that surprised us all, Oded Forer said: “we can feel satisfied with quite a few of the agreements reached during the talks with the Ministry of Finance. Although it is not relevant to the new law, it should be noted that the Medical Association asked the committee to verify that the medical staff’s salary wasn’t affected during the isolation period. An extra sum of money will be given to lone soldiers (haialim bodedim).

We had the opportunity to interview the deputy Oded Forer, President of the Finance Committee and to hear his opinion on the situation:

G.S: How do you see the commercial relations between Israel and the world in light of the crisis?

Dep. O.F: We must work simultaneously on several levels: the Israeli government needs to rebuild the economy and national production in order to start moving the wheels of the local market so we can get it out of the crisis. Also, trade relations with the rest of the world must be restored to normal. In this regard, cargo flights should also receive assistance, due to the decrease in passenger flights, many of which also carried cargo.

G.S: What must the State of Israel do to gradually return the tourism industry to the numbers we knew before the crisis?

Dep. O.F:    The next period will be very challenging for the tourism industry and it will suffer a significant economic blow. First, precise guidelines must be adhered to in this “virus routine”. Hotels, restaurants and tourist sites must be duly prepared when tourists arrive. The second step will be to reduce regulation and bureaucracy in the sector so we can reduce market prices and provide a tourist alternative for countries that are still in crisis.

Assistance must be provided to the tourism industry so that it can survive the crisis without crashing and be able to return to full activity as soon as possible.

Regarding the tourism crisis, the Finance Committee has already appealed to the Ministry of Economy asking for an extra sum valued at 700 million Shekels.

Deputy Forer stated: “Part of the plan will be to build an exit plan, otherwise it will be very difficult. We must create hope in our society instead of despair, tourism is an important part of our economy, stop saying there is no tourism here.”

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