Lebanon News

Berri: Parliament must legislate

Berri says Parliament must address the salary scale draft law before approving the passing certificates issued by the Education Ministry.(The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRIUT: It’s the duty of the Parliament to make laws, Nabih Berri reminded lawmakers Wednesday, as debate continues over a second extension of the legislature's term.

“Making laws is the duty of the Parliament,” Berri said during his weekly meeting Wednesday with lawmakers.

The speaker also stressed on the need to hold timely parliamentary elections.

Berri has rejected the extension of Parliament on the grounds that lawmakers have failed to address the growing problems that the country is facing. With the exception of a burst of activity after the formation of Prime Minister Tammam Salam's Cabinet in February, Parliament has convened only a handful of times since it extended its term last year by 17 months.

The legislature is currently deadlocked over the election of a new president, with many Christian and March 14 MPs boycotting sessions over the vacuum in the presidency while Hezbollah and March 8 lawmakers are boycotting the electoral sessions.

This deadlock has left Parliament unable to address a rash of urgent issues, including the drawn-out battle over a new salary scale for public sector workers, which has led to a wave of protests and strikes over the last several years.

On Tuesday, Berri reportedly insisted that parliamentary approval of a controversial salary raise was a “must” before approving official certificates for Grade 9 and Grade 12 students.

“Official certificates ... inevitably require Parliament to pass the law,” visitors of Berri quoting him as saying. "If Parliament convened for a legislative session, no items on its agenda would be discussed, including the certificates draft law, unless [lawmakers] first approved the salary scale bill."

On Tuesday, Parliament’s Education Committee recommended that lawmakers draft a law to legalize the passing certificates.

Education Minister Elias Bou Saab decided to issue passing certificates for Brevet and Baccalaureate students after the Union Coordination Committee said it wouldn’t end its boycott of official exams correction.

The results of the official exams, required for students to enroll in university, have been caught in the ongoing battle over a new ranks and salary scale for Lebanon's public workers.

Civil servants and teachers are demanding a 121 percent raise, matching one given to judges, and have held a series of protests and strikes over the last several years to pressure Parliament to approve the draft law. Lawmakers have come out in support of a new salary scale; however, the bill is being held up over disagreements on the size of the wage hike and the mean to finance it.





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