Israel’s State Control Committee discussed on Tuesday the effects of the corona pandemic on Israel’s high-tech industry. At the opening of the meeting, representatives of the State Comptroller’s Office presented a report published by the Office in March which said that the scope of foreign investments in the industry, and its dependence on these investments, obligates the relevant bodies to thoroughly examine the issue and develop tools that will provide a solution in the event of a reduction in foreign investments in the Israeli high-tech industry, as is the case today.

Committee Chairman MK Ofer Shelah said the “worrying” remarks made during the meeting by representatives of the industry and the Israel Innovation Authority indicate that the high-tech industry “is in a free fall.” He said Israeli high-tech exports are at risk of declining due the coronavirus crisis, and called to train Haredim and Israeli Arabs for work in high tech.

“We must come out of the crisis with Israeli high tech being able pull the economy out of the mud, because on the other side of the crisis, high tech will be the industry that can move us forward,” MK Shelah said.

Dr. Ami Appelbaum, Chairman of the Israel Innovation Authority and Chief Scientist at the Ministry of Economy and Industry, presented data on the high-tech industry during the corona era. “The layoff rate has reached 7%; sales and investments are hurt. We are currently in a free fall,” he said.

When the corona crisis broke out, Appelbaum told the committee, the Israel Innovation Authority received close to 800 requests for aid. 78 companies were given NIS 52 million to deal with corona-related problems. The Treasury allotted NIS 600 million to help high-tech companies, and another NIS 500 million have been designated for struggling high-tech companies. “There is an agreement with the Treasury that if the distribution of the NIS 500 million is completed by the end of August, the Treasury will consider adding another NIS 250 million,” Appelbaum said.