BEIRUT: Head of the Future bloc Fouad Siniora retorted Wednesday that no deal had been reached with Speaker Nabih Berri on the wage hike, rendering suggestions that the bloc had engaged in a “coup” against Parliament sessions meaningless.
According to a statement released by the Future Movement aimed directly at the speaker, there was no agreement on the size of the wage hike for the bloc to “rebel against,” and talks were continuing “to suit legitimate demands and what is beneficial for the economy in fitting with the financial capacity of the Lebanese state to afford this without additional risks.”
Berri disclosed details of an alleged agreement over the salary scale bill on the sidelines of the failed Parliament session Monday to elect a president.
He was quoted as saying the agreement was reached during a meeting at his office in Parliament attended by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, Siniora and MP Bahia Hariri.
But according to visitors, Berri was surprised by the change in the Future Movement’s position on attending the Parliament session Tuesday, saying their lack of attendance amounted to “a coup against Monday’s agreement,” and that the bloc and its allies were aiming to “disrupt” the sessions.
Parliament failed once again to meet Tuesday to vote on the controversial wage hike bill that has been a key demand by the Union Coordination Committee for holding the official exams, prompting Berri to postpone the session to June 19.
He has also urged Education Minister Elias Bou Saab to postpone the exams for Grade 9 and Grade 12 students.
Siniora stressed Wednesday that the discussions were not between those who support or oppose the wage hike “as some are trying to insinuate,” but were between those hastily aiming toward political gains and those calling for reasonable decision-making, “so the country does not fall into bankruptcy, inflation and declining growth.”
He stressed that the “door to dialogue and weighted, serious and insightful solutions was still open” and that the Future Movement confirmed its readiness to engage in talks, but was not willing to agree for “the destruction of Lebanon’s finance and economy as a result of populist policies or regional policies hiding behind justified social demands.”
Siniora pointed out that the Future bloc and its March 14 allies had always expressed support for those with limited income and for implementing a balanced salary scale, according to the statement.
“Some comments and behaviors by some political groups conceal their intentions and implicit political goals, the least of which is to push Lebanon deep into the abyss to destroy its economy in order to facilitate the control on its people and capabilities,” the statement added.