Israel Bonds President Gideon Patt: "There is also an economic price to the Intifada"
by Gad Nahshon
"People who just made a pledge to buy Bonds rush, today, to pay. They call me. They understand with pride the urgency. They also know that the money goes immediately to Israel, to build its economic infra-structure. Only 1/2% goes to the costs of our organization. Out of $100, only 50 cents stays here," said Gideon Patt, the President of Israel Bonds, who served in various Israeli cabinets as Minister of Economic, Trade, Industry, and Tourism.
Patt explained that the Intifada has caused some alert among the international business community but in the 'Bonds' the story is different: "We sent every week 50 million dollars to Israel!" remarked Patt with a sense of pride. He estimated the costs of the Intifada to Israel directly as around 700-800 million dollars (military, police, security forces).
Also, since many men were called to their army units, the G.N.P. has suffered. "I am worried because it had an effect on our export," explained Patt who also pointed out with pride that the inflation rate in Israel is... zero! It is a unique achievement of the Israeli economy. The level of business was low: people did not shop, did not buy. But the hi-tech industry was not influenced by the Intifada as Israel's infra-structure. The 'Bonds' is responsible to its budget, or 50% of it! Patt pointed out that Israel needed to borrow 5 million dollars but today only a million and a half! The 'Bond's Share' of it is two-thirds.
What was the sector which has suffered to greatest loss? "Tourism," said Patt, the most professional president of the Bonds. "The damage was great. Hotels were empty, workers were fired, tourists did not come. Israelis (domestic tourism) gave up vacations inside Israel. Roads were closed to traffic. My estimate for the year 2000 is a loss of 50% of the previous year's business. We lost approximately a sum of one billion dollars," explained Patt. "By the way, Israeli Arabs were like the Israelis victims of this damage to business and the economy. They too paid the economic price of the Intifada," said Patt who has an excellent record of building this economy.
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