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The Knesset Finance Committee Monday approved Finance Minister Abraham Hirchson's request to extend the deadline for small business loans and state guaranteed loans until October 31. The committee also approved his request to include businesses owned by reserves soldiers in the state secured small business loan program in the North. The maximum loan, which can be arranged at most of the country's banks, is NIS 135,000.

Meanwhile, 5,000 people employed in small manufacturing operations in Haifa and the North may be dismissed after the holidays unless their employers receive government aid soon, says Yossi Ben-Shoshan, chairman of the Association of Workshops and Small Industries in Haifa and the North.

Ben-Shoshan called on the government to permit small manufacturers to spread out their tax payments and to broaden the criteria for granting war-damage compensation to these business owners. "The situation on the ground is intolerable: the government aid, like the compensation arrangement for August and the loan fund, has not been implemented," Ben-Shoshan said.