State revenues from V.A.T. on imports plunged 20% in December compared to last year, and are down 13% compared to November. Such a sharp drop in import activity in a single month is unprecedented, raising deep concerns about the direction the economy is taking.

V.A.T. revenues fell from about NIS 2.9 billion in December 2007 to some NIS 2.3 billion in December of this year, spelling NIS 600 million less to state coffers. NIS 100 million alone is attributed to the decreased import of cars, but the remaining half a billion shekels does not appear to be a result of a particular problematic sector, nor of a technical explanation. Nor did the ports suffer labor disputes in December, which could have jeopardized the flow of imports. No important importer has made any major technical adjustments to the volume of activity in December, such as a rescheduling of shipments.