Business in Brief

Income and land tax staff begin slowdown

Income tax and land tax personnel began a work slowdown on Wednesday to protest the Finance Ministry's decision to push forward with a departmental reorganization that has been in the works for several years. "The move needs to be done in coordination with worker representatives and the Histadrut labor federation, not as a unilateral step," said a member of the income tax workers’ committee. Starting Sunday, the workers intend to intensify their protest by refusing to serve the public or answer telephones. The sanctions will disrupt tax collection and prevent real estate transactions from being completed. Customs and value-added-tax staff are also threatening to join in the sanctions next week. (Haim Bior)

Foreign currency reserves approach $80b

Israel's foreign currency reserves grew by $851 million last month to reach a record of over $79 billion. According to figures released by the Bank of Israel on Wednesday, July was the fourth consecutive month that reserves rose. The boost stems from foreign investment, along with intervention by the central bank to prop up the dollar and offset the effect of natural gas production on the exchange rate. (Moti Bassok)

Legislation easing imports passes Knesset panel

Legislation widening the scope of products that can be brought into Israel without requiring approval from the Standards Institute was endorsed on Wednesday by the Knesset Economic Affairs Committee. The legislation, part of a broader reform to liberalize imports, empowers the Economy Ministry to decide which imports pose enough risk to the health or safety of the public or the environment that the Standards Institute must examine them first. Other products will be cleared for import as long as the importer certifies them as safe. Until now, the institute had to approve a product unless an exception was made. (Ora Coren)