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The banks in the north are ignoring the orders of the Supervisor of Banks, Yoav Lehman, not to block the accounts of residents who have overdrawn their credit limits; according to Oded Feller, president of the Haifa Chamber of Commerce.

Feller sent Lehman a letter on the matter, protesting the banks? actions.

Lehman had told the banks last week to try to avoid bouncing checks for northern residents by granting them additional overdraft facilities, which Feller claims the banks have been ignoring.

He further requested that if in any case the banks must return checks, they should do so in a manner which does not mark the account as ?restricted?. Feller also said that the banks were unilaterally extending the time for clearing the checks, which has caused serious damage to small businesses in the north.

Trade and Industry Minister Eli Yishai instructed his ministry to reduce the bureaucracy and make conditions more flexible for receiving loans for small businesses from the ministry?s fund for small businesses.

Yishai explained that the loans are for up to NIS 100,000 per business.