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The Knesset Labor, Welfare and Health Committee yesterday unanimously approved - in defiance of the cabinet's position - the raising of old-age allowances from 16 percent to 20 percent of the average wage.

The committee sent four private members bills to the Knesset plenum for their first reading, where they will need at least 51 votes in favor to pass, due to the high cost of the increase, which is estimated at NIS 4-4.5 billion a year.

The bills were passed in their preliminary reading by the Knesset two weeks ago, with no opposition or abstentions among those who voted.

The raising of old-age allowances will lead to a similar increase in child allowances and survivors' benefits.

In addition, the committee voted to link the allowances to the average wage and not to the consumer price index, as is now the case.