Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Lebanon's President Michel Aoun during private meeting, at the Vatican March 16, 2017. REUTERS/Alessandra Tarantino/Pool
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Sharp differences burst out into the open Thursday between lawmakers over financing the public sector's salary hike bill, thwarting a Parliament session and casting gloom over the fate of long-awaited salary increases for thousands of civil servants and public and private school teachers.Worse still, the abortive Parliament session was marked by an exchange of accusations over responsibility for delaying the final ratification of the salary scale bill, reflecting divisions over how to handle this sensitive issue that has been simmering since 2013 .Hariri categorically denied rumors on new taxes, saying his government was more determined than ever to ratify the salary scale bill.Despite the confusion that accompanied the Parliament session, Hariri assured public employees that the salary scale bill is still on track.Lebanese Forces chief Samir Geagea lamented what he called the "chaotic atmosphere" that accompanied the Parliament session on the salary hike bill, saying his group will withhold its support for the bill.Lawmakers had resumed discussions on the new salary scale Thursday morning after endorsing five new taxes a day before to fund the salary scale.
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