MK Shelly Yechimovich
MK Shelly Yechimovich Israel news photo: Flash 90

If you do work for the Israeli government, don't expect to get paid for awhile, says Labor MK Shelly Yechomovich. The government will continue to wait at least two months before paying its debts to contractors and freelance workers – and it's all Finance Minister Yair Lapid's fault.

In the latest of a spate of complaints against Lapid's actions, Yechimovich said that the Finance Minister personally attended a meeting of the Ministerial Law Committee Sunday in order to quash a law proposed by her and several other MKs, including coalition chairman Yariv Levin, which would have required the government to pay contractors, agents, freelancers, suppliers, and small businesses within 30 days of receiving their statements – as is required in most of the rest of the economy.

Had the law been adopted by the Knesset, contractors who were stiffed by the government would have been able to collect damages and penalties. The law is especially relevant to small businesses, who usually have to pay their suppliers within 30 days, as well as pay Value Added Tax in the first bi-monthly filing period after making a sale. In many cases, the government waits two, three, or even more months before settling up, causing a major financial hardship for contractors.

That hardship will continue, Yechimovich wrote in a blog post, thanks to Lapid. The Finance Minister, she said, “aggressively lobbied against the law” before the ministers on the committee, basically hounding them into rejecting it. “Here would have been a great way to improve the business atmosphere in Israel,” Yechimovich wrote, “so logical, sensible, basic to good business practices, helping out small businesses – and it wouldn't have cost the government an extra shekel,” since the debts eventually have to be paid anyway.

“Lapid speaks so much about helping small businesses, and this was a perfect opportunity,” Yechimovich wrote. “But instead of helping them, Lapid just grabs more from them.”

In response, Lapid wrote on his Facebook page that the law was “populist,” and that he did not care to cater to such constituencies. “Yechimovich is so concerned about small businesses now, but she forgets that had her government joined the coalition, she herself could have been Finance Minister. But she, as we recall, ran away from her responsibility, and left the economy in the hands of those who do not try to escape that responsibility."