Employers called on the state to raise pensions for those of few financial means two weeks ago, so that a lone senior will receive NIS 4,700 whereas a couple will receive NIS 7,800.
Should such a raise be enacted, it will improve the lot of some 200,000 seniors who have thus far had to contend with the National Insurance Institute's income supplements and an additional 150,000 who receive no benefits whatsoever.
The cost of the raise is estimated to be around NIS 3 billion, the employers' organization said, and announced they are willing to pay for half the cost by agreeing to a hike in the National Insurance fee paid by each Israeli employer to 0.36 percent. The Manufacturers Association then demanded the state foot the rest of the bill.
The Association's suggestion means NIS 1.5 billion will be absorbed into the National Insurance budget and used directly to raise pensions.
Now the government seems to have found a way to pay for its share of the raise, within the coalition agreement penned with Yisrael Beytenu. "We've inserted the issue of bettering the state of Israel's seniors into our coalition agreement. We've raised NIS 1.9 billion for it, which went into the budget's base, with NIS 700 million already used and NIS 1.2 billion available," said Yisrael Beytenu's parliamentary group chairman MK Oded Forer.
Of the unused funds, Yisrael Beytenu was supposed to receive NIS 400 million during each of the next three years, according to the agreement, but the party has now asked for the entire lump sum to enable them to pay for the pension raise along with the Manufacturers Association.
"We're in negotiations with the Finance Ministry to make the payments earlier," Forer explained. He has been leading the plan alongside MK Yulia Malinovsky.
Minister of Defense Lieberman said on the matter, "I'm pleased to announce Yisrael Beytenu has consented to earmark the reform funds intended for Israel's seniors to be used as the government's share in the partnership with employers."
"I call upon the Finance Ministry to make good on paying the party what it is owed sooner, allowing us to bring real, immediate change in the coming budget to the financial situation and lives of hundreds of thousands of seniors," Lieberman appealed.
President of the Manufacturers Association of Israel Shraga Brosh added, "We're finally underway. This means taking Israel's most vulnerable population and removing it from abject poverty. It's a real change."