UPDATE 1-Teva Pharmaceutical leads Israeli companies in govt tax breaks
JERUSALEM, July 16 (Reuters) - Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Israel's largest company, reaped nearly 12 billion shekels ($3.3 billion) in government tax breaks between 2006 and 2011 as part of a programme to encourage capital investment, the Tax Authority said on Tuesday.
Teva, the world's largest generic drugmaker, led the list of companies receiving annual tax breaks at 11.78 billion shekels, followed by Israel Chemicals at 2.2 billion and Check Point Software Technologies at 1.65 billion, the authority said.
They were among many other public companies who received state tax benefits.
Such figures have been published in Israeli newspapers, fuelling outrage from politicians and the public who believe that the government should not be doling out tax breaks when the budget faces a large deficit that will be closed by spending cuts and tax hikes.
Teva, which had revenue above $20 billion in 2012, said it has and will continue to pay taxes in full compliance with the law.
"Teva has fulfilled the purpose and lives up to the spirit of the Capital Investment Encouragement Law," it said in response to the report. "The law greatly contributed to Teva's expansion in Israel, to the country's competitiveness, and to boosting the periphery."
In the past decade Teva doubled the number of its direct employees in Israel to more than 7,100 and has invested 8 billion shekels constructing new facilities and 15 billion in research and development. Its exports in the past decade totalled 140 billion shekels.
In response to the list of companies receiving benefits, the Finance Ministry said they were approved by the government.
"These benefits are being re-examined by Finance Minister Yair Lapid with a goal of updating and adapting them to the needs and economic reality," the ministry said in a statement.