Photo: Flash90

Israel unveils ₪80b national anti-virus aid plan

Israeli Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon has announced the allocation of additional funds as part of the government’s economic aid package to assist a growing number of citizens who are struggling amid the coronavirus crisis.

Saying that the State of Israel is facing “the severest economic crisis in its history,” Minister Kahlon called the spike 30,000 unemployed citizens to 1 million in less than one month “an incomprehensible number.” He went on to point out that “entire sectors and businesses have been closed, hundreds of thousands of households are collapsing under economic distress.”

Benefits to help the public are being expanded by an₪ 80 billion shekel total (equivalent to about €20.5 billion $22.5 billion), which Minister Kahlon stressed is equivalent to “about 6% of Israel‘s national product.”

₪11 billion shekels (€2.8 billion Euros or $3.1 billion) of the funds will go directly to the national health care system, while about ₪40 billion shekels (€10.3 billion Euros or $11.2 billion) is dedicated to the commercial sector, and ₪20 billion shekels (5.2 billion Euros or $5.6 billion) is for the expansion of the social safety net and to provide relief for households. Furthermore, ₪8 billion shekels (€2 billion Euros or 2.25 billion) is directed to the state’s economic stimulus plan.

Kahlon reassured the public that Israel “entered this crisis with a strong economy with the lowest unemployment” and “best credit rating” since the nation’s founding. Vowing that economic strength will return “far greater” and “much faster than expected,” Israel’s Finance Minister expressed his belief that the economy will “gradually” begin to function again “immediately” after the upcoming week-long Passover holiday, which concludes 15 April.

Kahlon, who founded the Kulanu party and has served as Finance Minister since 2015, announced last January that he would be retiring from political life. He will remain in the position until the formation of the new national emergency government.