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Lebanon News

March 8 and 14 exchange accusations over budget and wage hike

Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, left, speaks with MP Ibrahim Kanaan as they leave the Parliament in Beirut, Friday, April 4, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: MP Ibrahim Kanaan Tuesday accused the March 14 coalition of disrupting the passage of the ranks and salaries scale, while Future MP Ahmad Fatfat said the finance minister had illegally spent the public wages' money.

“Political actors have no intention to pass the ranks and salaries scale,” Kanaan told Voice of Lebanon radio station, “especially after more than a year of discussions have passed.”

Kanaan denied “all what is being said about the lack of revenues for the salaries scale,” pointing out a meeting that took place in Speaker Nabih Berri’s office where the Future Movement MPs were expected to make a decision but didn’t.

Kanaan said the 2014 budget would probably not include the wage hike, saying that March 14’s suggestions on the hike were a way to “run away from their responsibilities.”

On the other hand, Future MP Ahmad Fatfat accused Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil of illegally spending the money meant for wages to pay for the increase in living costs.

“[Khalil] transformed the case from a financial matter to a political one,” Fatfat said.

Khalil has refused to authorize extra-budgetary spending for civil servants unless the draft state budget for 2014 he prepared is approved. His decision raised fears that public sector employees would not be paid at the end of July.

Future MPs had said earlier that the ministry had the money to pay the wages but Khalil was refusing to do so for political reasons. However, Fatfat's said Tuesday that the money did not exist because it was "illegally" spent somewhere else.

“The problem with the ranks and salaries scale lies with the need to ensure real and realistic revenues to finance it,” Fatfat told Voice of Lebanon 93.3 Tuesday, contradicting Kanaan's denial of such problem.

Separately, Fatfat called for the pursuit of “former Prime Minister Hariri’s initiative,” inside March 14 first, “before moving toward the other group.”

Fatfat said that communication with the Progressive Socialist Party continued and was not cut, stressing that the Future Movement was waiting for the Reform and Change bloc’s statement to act concerning the initiative.

 

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Summary

MP Ibrahim Kanaan Tuesday accused the March 14 coalition of disrupting the passage of the ranks and salaries scale, while Future MP Ahmad Fatfat said the finance minister had illegally spent the public wages' money.

On the other hand, Future MP Ahmad Fatfat accused Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil of illegally spending the money meant for wages to pay for the increase in living costs.

Future MPs had said earlier that the ministry had the money to pay the wages but Khalil was refusing to do so for political reasons. However, Fatfat's said Tuesday that the money did not exist because it was "illegally" spent somewhere else.


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