BEIRUT

Lebanon News

Parliament to pass balanced wage hike: Adwan

Protesters rally outside the Social Affairs Ministry in Beirut, Monday, May 12, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces MP George Adwan, a member of the parliamentary committee studying the salary scale bill, said Monday lawmakers will aim to pass the long-awaited public sector wage hike this week.

"We handed over our review of the draft law to Parliament's committee which will meet today at 5 p.m. to reach common ground,” Adwan told reporters after meeting with Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil.

"We are heading to Parliament on Wednesday to approve the salary scale while we preserve the [financial] balance,” he added, referring to Wednesday’s session called for by Speaker Nabih Berri to discuss and possibly pass the controversial draft law.

He also said that unions should recognize that any increase to the salary scale should be met with a source of income generation to maintain balance in the treasury otherwise “beneficiaries of the wage hike will be affected.”

He also criticized the fact that public sector wages had taken too long to review, saying: “The salaries should not be discussed every 12 years but we should meet annually to assess the economic situation and the public debt and reevaluate the wages accordingly.”

The parliamentary committee tasked with restudying the salary scale draft law reduced the total funding from L.L2.8 trillion to L.L1.8 trillion.

The committee endorsed a number of proposals such as raising the rate of the Value Added Tax from 10 percent to 11 percent, increasing customs by 1 percent and increasing taxes on bank profits from 15 to 17 percent.

Adwan’s comments came hours after the head of the Union Coordination Committee called for massive turnout for a rally to be held May 14 to protest Parliament’s plan to cut funding for a public sector wage hike.

“I call on students, particularly those in Grades 9 and 12, as well as their parents and teachers to participate in the ‘day of rage’ rally at 11 a.m. Wednesday outside the Banks' Association,” Hanna Gharib told hundreds of cheering protesters Monday at a sit-in outside the Social Affairs Ministry.

“Let’s be united on Wednesday to throw the ball in their court and let them shoulder the responsibility,” he said.

“We will finally win the battle,” Gharib vowed.

Gharib called for the strike Wednesday after a special Parliamentary committee tasked with studying a controversial salary scale cut funding from LL2.8 trillion to LL1.8 trillion.

He also urged Berri to hold daily meetings “until the wage hike [amendment] is approved.”

 

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