Lebanon News

Parliament to convene for final vote on wage hike

Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, left, and MP Ibrahim Kanaan attend the committee meeting to discuss salary scale at the Parliament in Beirut, Friday, April 11, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Speaker Nabih Berri Saturday called for a legislative session this week to debate and vote on the controversial public sector wage hike bill.

Berri scheduled a session for Tuesday when he will convene Parliament to debate the draft law, approved by the joint Parliamentary committees after a series of lengthy marathon sessions.

MPs failed to reach an agreement on when the wage hikes would come into effect, whether they would be retroactive and if they would be paid in installments. As well as failing to reach agreement on the increase in value-added tax and on details of the raises for teachers.

Tuesday's session will mostly likely witness heated debates among MPs between supporters and opponents of the salary increase, which has been a demand of civil servants and teachers for several years.

In previous committee sessions, MPs approved several means to finance the proposal, estimated to cost the treasury $1.6 billion annually, including raising the 5 percent tax on deposit interest revenue to 7 percent and fines for property violations.

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.

The proposed taxes prompted local banks to collectively observe a one day strike in protest of the draft bill, saying alternative means to finance the wage hike should be considered.

MP Walid Jumblatt, head of the National Struggle Front bloc, said his MPs would vote against the bill if "the revenues proposed were not clear."

"We will not vote for any increase ... unless administrative reforms are to be implemented in the public sector," Jumblatt told An-Nahar.

MPs discussed administrative reforms needed in the public sector in order to finance the wage without increasing the public debt.





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