BEIRUT: Future Movement MPs Atef Majdalani and Khodr Habib announced Wednesday that March 14 lawmakers would attend parliamentary legislative sessions even before electing a new president.
“We cannot take stances that contradict Lebanon and its people’s interest,” Majdalani told the radio station Voice of Lebanon 93.3. “This is why we [announce] our readiness to participate in sessions that will pass exceptional laws that the country needs.”
Habib, Future’s MP in Akkar, echoed this statement in an interview with Free Lebanon radio station, saying that “March 14 does not mind going down to Parliament and legislating, only in case of necessity.”
The two MPs specified that the ranks and salaries scale and the unpaid wages of the public sector employees were among the top priorities considered for urgent legislation.
“We confirm that we are ready to legislate," Majdalani said, "in what concerns the [unpaid] salaries and the ranks and salaries scale. We are for this scale because it is a right for the employee, the teacher and the soldier, but we insist that it should be founded on good grounds.”
As for Habib, he stressed that although his bloc was ready for legislation, the wage hike still faced the problem of collecting the state revenues required to fund it.
“The problem here is not with going down to the Parliament, but rather with finding the [sources of] revenues,” he said.
On the other hand, Future’s MP Ahmad Fatfat announced, after meeting Prime Minister Tammam Salam, his blocs’ “readiness to go and vote on the matter of the eurobonds" to finance the Lebanese public debt.
“As for the [unpaid] salaries, the Cabinet and the finance minister can ensure the required amounts [without the need for parliamentary legislation].”
He condemned Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil’s decision not to pay the salaries until the Parliament issued an official permit allowing doing so, saying that it was a provocative political step.
“We [see] in this logic a political pressure to make sure the Parliament meets on normal legislative sessions, while we insist that electing the new president should stay a top priority.”
March 14 MPs and especially Christians among them had continuously opposed any legislation in the Parliament before the election of a new president.
In light of the deadlock in the presidential matter, the public sector’s employees and teachers have found their case stuck.
The Union Coordination Committee, which has been demanding the wage hike for three years, organizing protests, sit-ins and currently a hunger strike by one of its members, threatened Wednesday that if the policy was not enacted, 2014-2015’s academic year would not start next September in any of Lebanon’s schools.
As for the unpaid wages for public sector employees, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil had announced that they cannot be paid unless the Parliament passes legislation allowing the Cabinet to do so.
This announcement provoked heavy condemnations by the Future officials, who reminded Khalil that previous Cabinets had been dealing with identical cases for many years without causing trouble. Khalil responded by saying he was not willing to break any laws and illegally pay the salaries, calling MPs to convene for a legislative session as soon as possible.