Mikati set to send salary scale to Parliament

Prime Minister Najib Mikati speaks during an interview with The Daily Star at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Monday, July 2, 2012. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati intends to send the controversial salary scale package to Parliament for approval next week as the Union Coordination Committee prepares to stage an open-ended strike on Feb. 19 if the Cabinet fails to give them higher wages.

Mikati told his visitors Wednesday that the salary scale would be approved by the Cabinet and promised to secure the funding without raising taxes this year, a source said.

But the source told The Daily Star Mikati did not give any hints about the measures he wanted to take to fund the salary increase, which will cost the treasury $1.2 billion each year.

“It seems Mikati wants to throw this ball in Parliament’s [court], although he realizes that it has no chance of passing under these delicate political and economic conditions. The bill, if approved by the Cabinet, will eventually pass to the next government, which will be formed after the parliamentary elections,” the source said.

Economists and businessmen have warned that any salary increase for public sector employees at this stage would cause the budget deficit to rise to above $4 billion.

But UCC leaders, who met several political leaders over the past few days, insisted that they would proceed with an open-ended strike despite efforts to foil the protest.

Many UCC leaders fear that neither the March 8 nor March 14 alliance has a desire to adopt the salary scale, despite their verbal support for it.

The UCC expects most public and private schools to abide by the strike on Feb. 19.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 14, 2013, on page 5.




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