Israel launches $200 million package to help small businesses rebuild

Ministry of Finance tosses in more funds to help restore the economy with half the amount to assist businesses to comply with new health requirements.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

The government is launching a 700 million shekel ($200 million) economic aid program for industry and small and medium-sized businesses as part of the reconstruction of the economy under the coronavirus crisis, Israel Hayom reported Thursday.

Almost half of the funds are slated to go to help businesses deal with the new reality of operating while the coronavirus pandemic continues, including money to implement new Health Ministry requirements, transition of sales to online commerce and the implementation of new manufacturing methods to reduce health risks.

The new package is in addition to the previously announced aid program that included a grant of 5.2 billion shekels ($1.5 billion) in fixed expenses, a reduction of 2.6 billion shekels ($750,000) in municipal taxes, a 14 billion shekel ($4 billion) national loan guarantee fund for SMBs  as well as a 6 billion shekel ($1.7 billion) loan guarantee fund for large businesses along with an easing of regulations – although it is not clear yet which regulations will be scaled back.

“It is our duty to look after the small businesses that need assistance,” said Finance Minister Yisrael Katz. “I see this as a top value for the growth of the economy.”

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“The plan for the march of Israeli industry and business to emerge from the crisis is the start of the assistance, which is expected to continue in the coming months,” said Minister of Economy and Industry Amir Peretz.

In addition, grants will be offered to small- and medium-sized businesses for new electronic payment, clearing technologies to promote contactless payment methods on supported credit and debit cards, and payment through advanced payment apps on smartphones.

There are also grants for businesses to  connect to high-speed fiber optic internet infrastructure.

The new manufacturing methods will put an emphasis on investments in computing, sensors and robotics to enable manufacturers to work safely while the coronavirus is still a threat.