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The Finance Ministry yesterday managed to slip another amendment into the Economic Arrangements Law, the supplementary legislation to the budget, Yedioth Ahronoth reports.

The amendment entails a one-year freeze of a substantial part of grants given to factories under the Investment Encouragement Law. The grants, including interest and CPI-linkage, are to be paid only two months after the approval of the budget for 2003.

In the original amendment, the cabinet wanted to freeze implementation of the Investments Encouragement Law. The government proposed restructuring 70% of the grants over the coming seven years. The present amendment is expected to decrease government expenses by some NIS 140 million.

The Investments Center, which operates under the auspices of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, said that nobody in the cabinet had consulted with the ministry. A source from the center said that although the amendment does not involve real damages, it involves a negative message to investors.

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