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Business & Finance

Israel should not extend unpaid leave job benefits, central bank chief says

  • "Don't extend them," Yaron told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he delivered the Bank of Israel's annual report. "Let people understand they need to return to the employment cycle."
  • Israel's economy shrank 2.5% in 2020 due to the virus, but Yaron said Israel's performance was decent versus other countries due to strong high-tech exports.
Updated 06 Apr 2021

JERUSALEM: Bank of Israel Governor Amir Yaron on Tuesday urged the government not to extend state benefits to those on unpaid leave to encourage them to return to work. As part of a broad coronavirus stimulus package, the government handed out benefits to workers who lost jobs or were put on furlough due to the pandemic. These payouts are set to end in June.

"Don't extend them," Yaron told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he delivered the Bank of Israel's annual report. "Let people understand they need to return to the employment cycle."

Israel's economy shrank 2.5% in 2020 due to the virus, but Yaron said Israel's performance was decent versus other countries due to strong high-tech exports.

The jobless rate was nearly 17% in February but is expected to have started to decline in March after Israel's economy reopened due to a world-beating COVID-19 vaccination roll-out that sharply reduced the number of infections.

Yaron, according to a statement from Netanyahu's office, said it will take a few more weeks to get a better idea of how the labour market reacted to the reopening of the economy and whether the decline in unemployment was broad or in certain sectors like tourism and the arts.

Netanyahu told Yaron that Israel's economic growth in 2021 should surpass global growth since Israel is emerging from the crisis before many other countries and as the tech sector is very attractive.