Israel approves new financial aid package for virus-hit businesses


grants of up to NIS 7,500 ($2,250) will be transferred to self-employed workers and businesses hurt by the health crisis, in the coming days;

Welfare Minister Itzik Shmulik and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

The government on Sunday approved a new financial rescue package for self-employed workers and businesses affected by the coronavirus crisis.

The move came a day after a massive rally took place in downtown Tel Aviv on Saturday, against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s alleged failure to address economic woes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Finance Ministry said that grants of up to NIS 7,500 ($2,250) will be transferred to self-employed workers and business owners whose revenue declined due to the economic consequences of the crisis.

“In order to ensure quick aid to self-employed workers and business owners, the government decided the process will begin as soon as the motion is approved and the funds will be transferred to their bank accounts in the coming days,” read an official statement.

The statement also said that Israelis who were eligible to receive previous grants and have yet to receive or file for them, will receive them alongside the newly-approved aid.

Netanyahu said the government and legislature are working to expedite the transfer of the funds.

“The grant is not contingent upon legislation and we assumed it would be greenlit today so the payments could be transferred in the coming days,” said Netanyahu. “We will present the plan to the Knesset tomorrow, where it will be passed quickly with the help of the coalition.”

The premier also said the package provides financial certainty to business owners for the coming year, and instructed the tax authorities to report on the method through which the funds will be transferred.

Netanyahu then scolded Welfare Minister Itzik Shmuli after the latter called the government’s financial aid packages so far “a noose rather than a lifeline” for business owners.

“Voice your criticism carefully instead of shouting slogans,” said the prime minister. “Whoever doesn’t to be a part of the government, doesn’t have to be. We have a responsibility to run the system and act with restraint.”

“As Israel wads through this economic quagmire, there is no other place I want to be than baring the responsibility for the answers the government provides,” said Shmuli in response, “but we must first provide answers.”

Ynet News

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