Chambers of Commerce: Extend, Don't Cancel Benefits

The Federation of Chambers of Commerce objects to the treasury's initiative to cancel preferred employment allowances for discharged soldiers employed in gas stations, factories and workshops. The federation also demands that the allowances be extended to additional types of work, including shopping mall security and nursing aid.

The allowances are currently granted to discharged soldiers who work in hotels, gas stations, industry, construction, agriculture and security. National Insurance Institute figures reveal that there were 12,570 allowance recipients in 2005, of which 38 percent were employed in factories, 24.8 percent in hotels, 19.6 percent at gas stations, 10.5 percent in agriculture, 7.5 percent in construction and 0.6 percent in guarding. A total of NIS 100 million in allowances were paid in 2005.

The CEO of the Federation of Chambers of Commerce said that the allowances promote integration of discharged soldiers into the work force and increase their motivation. "It important for these young men and women to be integrated into the work force upon completing their mandatory military service and setting out into civilian life," he said, adding that the allowance can be viewed as doing justice to discharged soldiers.

The federation claims that extending the allowances to additional sectors of the economy would initially increase the number of beneficiaries by about 500. The federation estimates that the additional budget required would total about NIS 20 million.