People protest against the new rent law in Beirut, Friday, April 11, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)
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Parliament's Joint Committees referred late Friday a controversial draft law to raise the salaries of public sector employees to the general assembly after a seven-hour marathon session that failed to resolve key contentious issues in the bill.Amal MP Hani Qobeissi filed a lawsuit against Bassil for defamation and slander against lawmakers and politicians, but later retracted the lawsuit following Khalil's meeting with bankers.In his news conference, Bassil made a veiled apology to Berri following his criticism of lawmakers Thursday after Parliament's Joint Committees proposed to introduce a 7 percent tax on the interest income earned by commercial banks on assets deposited at the central bank. Lawmakers had also proposed to increase the tax on banks' net profits from 15 to 17 percent and raise the tax on interest earned on deposits from 5 to 7 percent. Increasing the tax on interest earned on deposits will generate $186 million for the treasury, while taxing the interest earned on bank assets deposited at the central banks would generate around $146 million.Khalil pointed out in the meeting that Lebanese banks earn about $1.8 billion of profits from their treasury bonds, and that the tax hike on deposit interest will mean that the banks pay about $400 million annually to the state.
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