BEIRUT: Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil announced Tuesday after Speaker Nabih Berri's meeting with Prime Minister Tammam Salam that his ministry would not pay public sector salaries until Parliament approved them.
"Any increase in spending needs a legal approval," Khalil said upon arriving at Ain al-Tineh after Salam's meeting with Berri. "The file was added to the next Cabinet session's agenda, but if Parliament does not approve, wages will not be paid."
Salam and Berri met Tuesday at the speaker's Ain al-Tineh residence to discuss the dispute over the public sector wages and other obstacles hindering the Cabinet. Salam left without making any comments.
Earlier Tuesday, Future MP Ahmad Fatfat accused the finance minister of illegally spending funds earmarked 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 has raised fears that public sector employees will 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 said Tuesday that the money did not exist because it was "illegally" spent elsewhere.
Health Minister Wael Abu Faour and Minister of State Mohammad Fneish met with Salam Tuesday afternoon to discuss the dispute over appointing deans at the Lebanese University.
The sources told The Daily Star that the passage of the LU decree would only be possible if Jumblatt’s bloc gave up on naming a dean to the Tourism Faculty in exchange for keeping Pierre Yared as the dean of the Faculty of Medicine.
Jumblatt is adamant that Yared, a Greek Catholic who is the current acting dean, remain in office. The dean of the Tourism Faculty is reserved for the Druze sect, while the dean of the Faculty of Medicine is a Maronite.
The Kataeb Party and MP Michel Aoun’s Free Patriotic Movement are both seeking to appoint a figure from their own party to the Faculty of Medicine.
However, Free Patriotic Movement sources repeated the party's position that the medical school's dean should be a Maronite appointed by the party. The demands are expected to further complicate the situation and delay discussion of the LU decree during the Cabinet session Thursday.