Treasury to Extend Use of Present Map of National Priority Areas Through 2012

The present map of national priority areas will be used for determining eligibility for various investment benefits until the end of 2012, a Finance Ministry official said yesterday. There have been many problems and court challenges with the present map, as the criteria used in drawing the map are not clear. The issue of changing the map is presently before the High Court of Justice.

Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer approved the extension and now the Finance Committee must also sign off on the idea.

Beyond the legal problems with the map, there is heavy political pressure from mayors and other local politicians to make changes. The Prime Minister's Office is currently preparing a new version.

The Finance Ministry has said that even if the map is changed in the near future, companies will be granted an additional year of benefits through the end of 2013 as if the map was still in effect.