‘Yom Kippur economy’: Israeli labor federation pressures government for 30 billion corona fund

“Today we need economic leadership to transfer funds, and the state has funds,” said the Histradut head.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

“We are on the threshold of Yom Kippur for Israel’s economy,” Histadrut labor federation chairman Arnon Bar-David said on Tuesday at an emergency meeting of the organization, calling on the state to make a 30 billion shekel infusion into the economy.

“I’m fearful for the fate of the Israeli economy and call on the government and those who stand at its head to combine hands with the Histadrut and the employers,” Bar-David said.

“Today we need economic leadership to transfer funds, and the state has funds,” he said.

Also at the meeting was Dudu Amitai, president of the Israeli Farmer’s Federation and head of a business umbrella group.

Amitai said, “Just as we were asked to be a strong rearguard and stood at the side of the state and the workers in all military endeavors, today we expect the state will stand by our side.”

Referring to loans of 4 billion that the government had so far offered to help businesses weather the coronavirus storm, Amitai said they were like a cup of medicine for someone who was already dead. He echoed Bar-David’s demand that a fund be set up with 30 billion shekels.

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On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said an 8 billion shekel fund would be set up to help businesses and another 6 billion would be added to the loan package, bringing it to 10 billion.

Omer Moav, a professor of economics at the Interdisciplinary Center, Herzliya and at the University of Warwick, criticized the Histadrut’s demand.

He told Israel Hayom on Wednesday that “the idea of pouring help in the billions of shekels is simply exaggerated. We’re not at war. Transferring ‘help’ is not free, but will be on the accounts of the entire public, in particular on the accounts of the weak, who will turn into guarantors by the Histadrut, the industrialists and other interest groups.”

“There’s no reason that the citizens of Israel should pay the salaries of El Al pilots, who on top of it all make much more than the average citizen,” he said.

Moav was an adviser to Israel’s treasury minister during the economic crisis of 2008-2009. He said “that crisis was much greater than the corona today, the pressures were massive to free up funds, as if the Treasury coffers were a hole without a bottom.”

“Outside of a slight concession, we behaved with responsibility and the Israeli economy passed the crisis with magnificent success, better than other countries,” he told the paper.

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“There’s no reason to act differently this time,” he said.