Gov’t Injecting Tens of Billions into Israeli Economy over Coronavirus
Israel’s finance minister announced on Monday evening that over NIS 80 billion ($22.9b.) in government funding was being introduced into an economy severely impacted by enforced closures over the coronavirus pandemic. (There is word that a further clampdown is coming, with authorities eyeing a move to allow just 15% of employees in non-essential sectors to go to work. The figure currently stands at 30%.) About half of the money being pumped into the economy, or NIS 40.7b., will be business grants and funds to make up for unpaid commercial taxes and regulatory fees. Some NIS 20.6b. is earmarked to help cover compensation for close to a million laid-off workers, and about NIS 3b. will go to the self-employed, who generally are not covered by public unemployment assistance. There will also be funds for expanded retraining programs. Beyond that, NIS 11b. is earmarked for the country’s universal health system, which a recent State Comptroller’s report said has been deeply underfunded since well before the pandemic. Another $7.7b. will go to infrastructure, with the country exploiting near-empty roads to fix them and accelerate intrusive transit projects.