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
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.