Elderly could choose foreign workers or cash

Elderly people on welfare who employ foreign workers will be able to choose between cash assistance and receiving welfare agency services. A compromise between the treasury and the Knesset Labor Committee is in the works, affecting 30,000 elderly people requiring such assistance. This decision is temporary, allowing a reversal in case of negative impact on recipients. Welfare agencies object to the new arrangement since they will be hard hit. The National Insurance Institute supports the move, conditional on giving people the choice. There is still disagreement regarding the default option. Opposition leader MK Shelly Yacimovich, head of the Labor Party, supports the compromise on condition that the default option is the welfare agency. NGOs that work with the elderly also support the move, stressing the benefits of having the elderly as sole employers. ‏(Ronny Linder-Ganz‏)

Intel to keep 80% of workers at Micron plant

Intel is expected to keep 80% of the 900 workers at Micron’s Israel microchip fab when it completes its acquisition of the Kiryat Gat factory in September, a representative of global Micron told workers yesterday. This is good news for the employees, who had feared broader layoffs. The remaining 20% will still be employed through 2014, however, when Micron’s current contracts run out. Global Micron told its staff in Israel last December that it intended to shutter the factory in 2014. The factory, originally an Intel plant, was sold by Intel to Numonyx in 2008, and then by Micron in 2010. ‏(Inbal Orpaz and Amir Teig‏)

State gets back funds from company that failed to meet commitments 

For the first time ever, the treasury has claimed repayment from a company that received state funds but failed to meet its commitments. Adus, which built the Chen Hotel in Jerusalem, received NIS 23 million but did not allocate rooms for tourists as agreed. When the hotel was sold, the money went back to the Investment Center. The money will now be returned to the state as part of a drive, begun three years ago, to collect money from companies that receive assistance but default on their commitments. Such debts now total NIS 1.6 billion. Some of the money was awarded to well-connected companies while other funds were obtained through deception. ‏(Ora Coren and Moti Bassok‏)

New regulations require insurance companies to rewrite policies

Insurance companies will have to rewrite their policies, in keeping with new regulations released yesterday by insurance commissioner Oded Sarig. The regulations, which apply to life, health and general insurance, set new guidelines for how policies are phrased in an attempt to increase transparency and fairness, and to make it easier for customers to receive insurance payments. For example, a policy covering operations cannot just cover the doctor’s pay but must cover other expenses such as the anesthesia. An insurance sector source voiced objections, stating that only lawyers would benefit and that policies would become more expensive. ‏(Assa Sasson‏) 

Tourism marketing to be hit by budget cuts

The Tourism Ministry’s budget cut will impact primarily international marketing efforts aimed at bringing tourists to Israel. The ministry’s budget will come to NIS 644 million this year, down from NIS 716 million in 2012. The main budget item to take a hit is marketing − the ministry’s marketing budget will amount to NIS 185 million this year and NIS 195 million next year, down from NIS 240 last year. Despite the cutbacks, the ministry intends to expand marketing efforts in India and continue with its program of investing in local hotels. “We already know we won’t be participating in all the exhibitions and fairs we participated in in the past,” said ministry director general Amir Halevy. ‏(Rina Rozenberg‏)