Business in Brief

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Absorption Ministry cuts off immigrants’ employer job subsidies

New immigrants to Israel have suddenly found themselves at risk of losing their jobs or being forced to take deep cuts in pay, after the Absorption Ministry, without warning, cut off subsidies to their employers. According to the ministry, immigrants and returning residents can’t be provided with certain services, including financial assistance, until the 2013 state budget is approved, due to ministry regulations. The Nefesh B’Nefesh organization, which facilitates immigration from English-speaking countries, responded, “The organization informs immigrants about all types of available assistance and directs the immigrant to the relevant office for further clarification of eligibility.” ‏(Hila Weissberg‏)

Record number of tourists arrived in May

A record number of tourists and same-day visitors arrived in Israel last month. Fully 336,000 visitors entered the country, 5% more than in May of last year and 9% more than in May 2011, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Monday. This occurred despite tensions on the Syrian border, and shows that Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza six months ago has been all but forgotten. The first five months of the year saw 1.4 million entries by tourists and same-day visitors, up 1% from the same period last year. “Tourism brings NIS 30 billion a year into the national treasury,” commented Tourism Minister Uzi Landau. “We’ll work to keep the trend increasing in the future as well.” ‏(Rina Rozenberg‏)

Israel, Colombia sign free trade accord

Israel and Colombia concluded on Monday a free trade area agreement that also encompasses investments and services. Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos arrived in Israel for the gala signing ceremony accompanied by a large delegation of government officials and businessmen. “Colombia faces problems of terrorism and war,” said the president. “When we look at Israel, we know that the road to economic stability is through innovation and a strong economy. We came here to learn from the State of Israel, a ground-breaker in the fields of science and technology.” Trade between the two countries stands at about $1 billion a year. Approximately 100 Israeli companies currently have operations in Colombia. ‏(Ora Coren‏)

Former Bank of Israel Governor Stanley Fischer, now vice chairman of U.S. Federal Reserve.Credit: Daniel Bar-On