Cabinet to approve plan for the north

Wednesday, August 16, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
By the end of this month, several major plans will be submitted to the Cabinet for reconstruction and strengthening of the Galilee. These plans include budgetary shifting and increasing of funds to government agencies on a scale of hundreds of millions of shekels. In addition the government has notified that it will relocate some of its activities and will operate from Jerusalem as well as from the north.

The government’s efforts will include four major taskforces: a taskforce to strengthen the standing of the local municipalities, a social taskforce to take care of the civilian population, a taskforce for the development of the Galilee, and another for creating tools for financial assistance. The Office of Development of the Galilee and the Negev will be charged with Galilee reconstruction, and for the first time, will also coordinate the activities of funds and major Jewish organizations who are also working on this task. Special attention will be given to the many victims of shock and anxiety due to the war. Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office Raanan Dinur said in a press conference outlining the special efforts that he had instructed the government offices to increase their manpower in their northern offices and to allow a “green lane” for residents who were damaged by the war. “We are going up north so that residents could go back to normal as quickly as possible,” said Dinur.

In addition, PM Ehud Olmert, who met with all municipality leaders in the north, said that “we will bring life back to normal and propel the north forward.” He also added that it is a top priority for the government to begin the school year on September 1st, as planned. The meeting included the ministers of Treasury, Interior, Education, Tourism, and Internal Security.

Until today, the Property Tax Authority has received 8,000 claims for property damage. The assessment is that that number will climb to 13,000. A month’s extension will be given for all advance tax payments without fines and no interest. The Property Tax Authority is also operating a 200-phone call center that is intended to assist with 100,000 additional claims for indirect damage for small business owners, farmers, and tourism operators. The treasury has already created a loan model for small business owners which will include state backing, and a repayment schedule which will begin six months after the loan is received.

The government is also providing alternate housing for those people whose homes were damaged and found unsafe for dwelling, or a payment of $600 for rent. As of today, 520 people are living in hotels.

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