The government’s emergency programme: handouts for real-estate companies rather than job creation

WAC Press release 18.11.08 After months of denials and attempts to present the Israeli economy as an island of prosperity unaffected by the global economic crisis, the Treasury has finally...

WAC Press release 18.11.08

After months of denials and attempts to present the Israeli economy as an island of prosperity unaffected by the global economic crisis, the Treasury has finally changed its tune. Details have been leaked in the last few days of an emergency programme for handling the crisis.

The Treasury has capitulated in the face of a wave of redundancies in hi-tech positions, fears that the diamond industry will soon follow suit, and the loss of 800 jobs in the security firm ‘Mishmar,’ as well as 120 jobs after ‘Marbak’ abattoir closed its doors. These events dispel any doubt as to the direction in which the economy is heading.

However, the emergency plan, which may consist of as much as 15 billion shekels, does not tackle the central problem faced by an economy in recession, namely, the need to create jobs and job security. As it appears so far, the plan would invest in infrastructure, increase budgets for professional training, and ease the burden of small businesses by creating credit trusts and delaying VAT payments.

Yet public projects in infrastructure do not bring about employment for local people, nor do they assure fair pay. The government is loyal to the very same free market principles which have brought about the current world crisis. Thus, it enables real-estate companies to employ imported migrant workers and to hire through subcontractors and manpower firms. Instead, the government should use public money to encourage fair employment for local workers.

Under enormous pressure from lobbyists, the government refuses to halt the import of foreign workers in construction, agricultural and personal care. A substantial reduction in the importation of workers would create tens of thousands of local jobs. How shall we explain the fact that this crucial issue is not at the centre of the emergency programme?

The Workers Advice Center (WAC – MA’AN) calls for a change in priorities: instead of serving tycoons and manpower firms, the government should protect local workers and establish a clear order of preference. The creation of jobs must be a top priority. Without this, billions more will be spent without benefit to the market or to society.

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