IMF, World Bank against wage hike: Choukeir

Chamber of Commerce Chief Mohammad Choukeir speaks during an interview with The Daily Star in Beirut, Lebanon, Thursday, April 5, 2012. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: Major international financial organizations have joined the private sector in criticizing proposed public sector wage hikes, as Lebanon experiences unprecedented economic downturn, said the head of the Beirut Chamber of Commerce Thursday.

“The Lebanese economy has never been in such a bad condition,” Mohammad Choukeir told the Central News Agency.

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will soon issue reports criticizing the wage increase, which applies to every type of public employee. “I hope the government will be courageous enough to announce these reports,” he said.

Choukeir criticized “threats and intimidation” practiced by the Union Coordination Committee, a labor union leading demands for enacting a boosted public-sector salary scale.

Thousands of teachers and public servants marched in Beirut Wednesday demanding the implementation of the pay raise.

“We need wisdom and dialogue because the country cannot bear a setback. Everybody knows that the treasury cannot endure the burden of the new wage scale,” he added.

Choukeir said the salary scale draft law would not be endorsed. “All the talk [about the scale] is like a bounced check. Let us instead focus on how to stimulate the economy,” he suggested.

Commenting on Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s call for a socio-economic roundtable discussion, Choukeir said the private sector would prepare and participate.

But Choukeir said the private sector would not participate in another economic summit.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on October 12, 2012, on page 5.




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