BEIRUT: A leading private sector group called for key steps to shore up Lebanon’s economy, including building a second civilian airport, creating more free trade zones and clamping down on strikes by teachers and public workers.
The Economic Committees submitted to Prime Minister Najib Mikati an outline of their plan to spur economic growth.
“To succeed in preserving the country, we have to separate politics from the economy,” Mikati said after meeting with a delegation led by the head of the Economic Committees, former Minister Adnan Kassar.
“[The opposition] should not harm the economy to settle scores with the Cabinet,” Mikati added.
Kassar said the Lebanese economy had shown improvement in the last month of 2012, following dismal performance throughout last year.
“Our economy is doing better than other economies in the region, but there are urgent issues that need to be addressed,” Kassar said.
The plan calls on the government to take tougher measures in order to step up security across the country.
“Restoring security across Lebanon is the key to lifting travel bans enforced by Arab countries,” the proposal says.
The plan also calls on the government to reject calls for a major public sector salary hike.
“Plans for the new public sector salary scale should be withdrawn completely from debate. There is no chance to fund such plans, especially [considering] that the deficit and waste at public departments have been soaring.”
The plan said teachers and public sector employees demanding raises had no legal right to continue demonstrating. Lebanese law does not allow public employees to participate in strikes, it added.
The Union Coordination Committee has threatened to cripple the country with strikes in February if the government fails to raise their salaries.
The Cabinet has said that it would refer a proposal to implement the salary increase to Parliament only after a mechanism is agreed to fund it.
The Economic Committees also proposed a second civilian airport, to be located in North Lebanon.
The plan called for additional free trade zones, similar to the one in the Beirut port.