The Cabinet on Monday night approved Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Finance Minister Yisrael Katz’s plan to expand the Coronavirus (COVID-19) economic safety net while cutting the salaries of Members of Knesset and senior civil servants by 10%.
The financial plan includes grants for businesses that retain their workers, the expansion of state-guaranteed loans, advance grant payments, and the allocation of grants for fixed expenditures also to businesses that were hurt by 25% of their income and up.
“Expanding the plan will enable immediate economic assistance for businesses and wage-earners who are expected to be hurt by the current lockdown,” the Prime Minister’s Office stated.
The overall cost of these latest steps and the expansion of the response to businesses, wage-earners and the self-employed according to the existing plans is estimated to be NIS 10.5 billion (approx. $3 b.).
The Cabinet also authorized the Katz to circulate a draft memorandum on lowering the salaries of MKs, ministers, the prime minister, and the inclusion of other officeholders whose salaries exceed that of MKs, by 10%.
The cut is not final and still requires several legal steps to be enacted.
This latest financial assistance package is one of several issued by the government in recent months, as the country faces an unprecedented financial crisis and a high unemployment rate generated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns.
Netanyahu stated at the start of the Cabinet meeting that “we must all bear the burden and we as ministers must also stand together in one row behind the steps that we will take to and in the face of the reality that will be difficult.”
Katz claimed that the economic safety net “is working well and is aiding the public.”
After the decision to declare a second weeks-long lockdown, “we decided to reinforce and expand the economic safety net with additional economic measures. We will continue to be attentive to the difficulties and will find rapid solutions that will provide appropriate responses to wage-earners ad the self-employed in wake of the crisis,” he said.