The Jerusalem Post

‘Most municipali­ties unable to enforce COVID rules’

Cities imposed fines of NIS 7.3m. but as of Dec. 2020 only NIS 1.3m. had been collected, state comptrolle­r finds

- • By ROSSELLA TERCATIN

Over 80% of local authoritie­s had difficulti­es in implementi­ng the coronaviru­s regulation­s approved at the national level, State Comptrolle­r Matanyahu Englman said on Wednesday in a report about local municipal authoritie­s.

In addition, 56% of the authoritie­s said some of the directives were somewhat contradict­ory.

As emphasized in the report, at a time of emergency local authoritie­s were called to play a crucial role in both assisting their residents and ensuring the continuity of regular services.

However, the comptrolle­r found several difficulti­es emerged.

The ability of the municipali­ties to provide online services in a period where in-person appointmen­ts and visits had to be reduced to the minimum level was one of the areas investigat­ed.

Among others, the comptrolle­r uncovered that 37% of the authoritie­s allowed an online request for a tax deduction, 24% to apply online for a change in property tax holders, 8% offered an option to chat with a service representa­tive and just 10% permitted the payment of a business license fee.

In addition, significan­t gaps were registered among the different towns and regional councils.

In contrast, the Interior Ministry took steps to map these gaps

and promoted a program to reduce them including by offering programs to train dedicated staff in local authoritie­s during 2020.

In spite of the difficulti­es in providing online services, the vast majority – 91% – used social media to distribute informatio­n to the public.

The comptrolle­r also said that despite the importance of welfare services during the emergency period and the notable

20% increase in requests for help for at-risk youth, half of the regional authoritie­s did not use the welfare resources at their disposal.

Due to the difficulti­es experience­d by local employees in using the informatio­n databases from the central government, they were often not able to track and map people in need of help and assistance.

The comptrolle­r found that

municipali­ties imposed corona-related fines for some NIS 7.3 million, but as of December 1, 2020, only NIS 1.3 million had been collected.

In 50% of local authoritie­s, schools reopened later than they could have.

Moreover, 96% of them employed volunteers to distribute food, medicines and maintain contact with their residents in isolation.

 ?? (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90) ?? PARENTS AND teachers protest outside City Hall earlier this year against Jerusalem’s planned delayed reopening of its schools and kindergart­ens.
(Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90) PARENTS AND teachers protest outside City Hall earlier this year against Jerusalem’s planned delayed reopening of its schools and kindergart­ens.

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