Israel's senior citizens have become accustomed to being at the bottom of the list of priorities, but this story is upsetting (Photo: ShutterStock)
Senior citizens are already used to being at the bottom of the list of priorities of Israeli governments, but over the past year it seems that they have slipped straight into neglect, after not even a budget was found for them to issue senior citizen certificates.
How much is the required budget? The Ministry for Social Equality said that the cost of issuing certificates is estimated at NIS 2 million per year.
These certificates enable senior citizens who have reached retirement age to exercise their various rights, mainly discounts on bank fees and entry to various sites such as museums, cinemas, zoos and performances (unlike their rights in the National Insurance Institute, which are obtained even without a senior citizen certificate).
But senior citizens tell Walla! Money, because in the past year no physical senior citizen certificate was issued.
The Ministry for Social Equality explains that the proposals raised in the previous tender for their issuance were <> times higher than the cost of the budget that the ministry was prepared to provide for the matter, and therefore decided to launch a new tender for the issue - which led to a delay (which is still ongoing) in issuing them.
The inability to issue a physical certificate led to the referral of senior citizens to download an app in which new seniors were asked to issue a senior citizen card digitally, until the issuance of physical certificates resumes.
Their loss (and that of the cultural sector and the state coffers), the shame of those who can't find a million shekels budget to issue pensioners' certificates (Photo: ShutterStock)
Analog Seniors in a Digital World
A significant portion of senior citizens, however, are not proficient in locating and operating unique applications on smartphones, and although the law requires businesses to allow them to exercise their right even without a senior citizen card - by presenting only an ID card, most businesses, according to the pensioners with whom Walla spoke! Money, they refused to do so.
Annabel Herziger from Jerusalem, for example, tried to enter the city's theater last June 1, and when she came to exercise her right to a discount, the theater refused to grant it. According to Herziger, the refusal stemmed from the lack of a senior citizen certificate or photocopy, which, as stated, she has not yet received.
Eli Yizraeli from Ramat Gan also tried to get the discount he deserved when he arrived at the Jerusalem Zoo with his grandchildren, friends and grandchildren earlier this year, only to discover that he, too, would not be able to exercise his right under the law without a senior citizen certificate.
Herziger and Yizraeli finally paid full price – and they are not alone; According to the Central Bureau of Statistics, about 72,26 senior citizens retired during the time period in question.
There is no precise quantification of the economic damage that the lack of issuance of certificates creates, but estimates by the Agency Workers Headquarters in Israel place the average discount at NIS 22, alongside an average of one entry per month for every senior citizen to any site, whether for personal consumption of culture and leisure or for spending time with grandchildren and family.
Based on these figures, it can be estimated that the lack of a discount led senior citizens during the period in question to pay up to NIS 4.3 million more than they were supposed to pay, and if they gave up because of the lack of a discount on entry, then the culture and entertainment sector, which already suffers from distress in an era of rising cost of living, lost millions in income.
Whether the surplus money came out of the pockets of senior citizens or did not enter the coffers of cultural and entertainment sites, this only illustrates the lack of perspective of the government system on both areas. The state coffers are also affected, with up to NIS 8.<> million in VAT payments, along with loss of tax revenue (assuming those businesses are taxable).
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Alex Tenzer, Chairman of the Bureau for Contract Workers, who collected the pensioners' inquiries on the subject (Photo: Leonid Tkach)
Fell between the offices
It should be noted that the Ministry could have contacted some of the dozens of plastic certificate suppliers currently existing in Israel in order to collect more suitable quotes and temporarily continue the service to senior citizens, until the tender on the matter is opened. As can be seen in the data assessments collected by the headquarters of contract workers - it was also lucrative for the state.
To think that only 17 years ago, the flag of senior citizens was raised at the top of the government's list of priorities after the public then awarded 7 mandates to the Pensioners' Party (Gil) in the 2006 elections. The Ministry of Pensioners began to be established that year after the Prime Minister's Office annexed the issue to it from the Ministry of Social Affairs as an auxiliary unit.
A year later, the auxiliary unit became an independent ministry, headed by former Mossad and Special Operations official Rafi Eitan, and it seemed that "Don't throw me away in old age" would no longer be used only as a cliché.
But taking care of the inventories alone, apparently, is not sexy enough for public servants, and the ministry has become the Ministry of Social Equality, where pensioners have gone from being the main subject to one in five (young people, minorities, gender equality, social enterprises and pensioners).
Today, the same issue for which the ministry was established – the pensioners, has already been symbolically moved to the ministry that deals with the periphery – the Ministry of the Negev, Galilee and National Resilience.
Alex Tenzer, chairman of the Contract Workers Bureau, which collected pensioners' inquiries on the subject, told Walla! Silver: "Over the past year, we were surprised to discover increasing inquiries, mainly the impossibility of exercising the rights of senior citizens at the entrance to the various sites.
You have to understand that there are elderly people who can't make ends meet and still want to consume some kind of cultural activity or want to be able to go out with their grandchildren and family, and need it like breathing air. For the soul.
An examination that we also conducted at the Hotline for Senior Citizens revealed that these citizens are sent by the Hotline directly to the digital senior citizen card, despite the fact that it was made clear to them that among the applicants there is no familiarity and digital ability that allows this.
In addition, there are thousands of senior citizens who do not have a smartphone at all, and some of them do not have a mobile phone at all, so practically they cannot issue themselves a digital senior citizen card.
The legislature clearly defined the rights of senior citizens and allowed them a framework to realize them, but the government responsible for the issue prevents this itself, and at the expense of the elderly, especially the poor. This is an unforgivable act.
Failure to issue a physical certificate is not the only thing that is not carried out, but also the lack of explanation among business owners that it is possible for a senior citizen to exercise his eligibility according to an identity card only, and without the need for a senior citizen card, and all this alongside the failure of those responsible for the issue to enforce against those who refuse.
On the one hand, you can understand business owners who don't want to deal with checking months and data on identity cards in order to decipher whether the person standing in front of them is indeed a retiree or a retiree, and it is indeed the government's job to verify this, but on the other hand it is the law and must be respected."
Minister for Social Equality, Amichai Shikli. The ministry published a new tender as soon as possible and in the meantime promoted an interim solution for issuing hard certificates (Photo: Flash 90, Jonathan Zindel)
The Ministry for Social Equality said in response: "The Ministry for Social Equality issues senior citizen certificates that can be obtained rigidly, digitally or both. The agreement signed by the Ministry for the issuance of certificates in a rigid manner ended when the alternative tender was canceled, including due to the high costs of the service from taxpayer funds.
Therefore, the Ministry acted to publish a new tender as soon as possible, and in the meantime promoted an interim solution for issuing hard certificates. As part of the temporary contract, the Ministry began issuing certificates to citizens of eligible age who have waited and have not yet received, and with the signing of the new tender, physical certificates will be issued to anyone who wishes.
It is important to note that the possibility of issuing a digital certificate has never been discontinued, with the Senior Citizens Inquiries Hotline *8840 assisting anyone interested in issuing a digital certificate who encounters difficulties. In addition, a senior citizen who, for one reason or another, urgently needs a physical certificate, can also contact the hotline and his request will receive a response.
It should be emphasized that there is no impediment to receiving the benefits to the senior citizen by presenting a digital certificate or by presenting an identity card attesting to the age of the citizen."
The response of the Ministry of the Negev, Galilee and National Resilience, which currently holds responsibility for the issue of senior citizens: "The Ministry of the Negev, Galilee and National Resilience is currently taking over responsibility for the Veterans Division from the Ministry of Social Equality. The Ministry is working vigorously and decisively to return the issuance of certificates to the required pace."
Minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee, Yitzhak Wasserlauf, who took over the field of senior citizens. The Ministry is working vigorously and decisively to return the issuance of certificates to the required pace (Photo: official website, Photo: Assi Efrati GPO)
- Ministry for Social Equality