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Lebanon's Arabic press digest - Oct. 18, 2012
Lebanon's Arabic press digest.
Lebanon's Arabic press digest.
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Following are summaries of some of the main stories in a selection of Lebanese newspapers Thursday. The Daily Star cannot vouch for the accuracy of these reports.


Salary crisis in a whirlpool of taxes and strikes

Two global warnings to Lebanon against Syria and earthquakes

Cabinet warns against pressuring Treasury, adopts procrastination policy

A visit to Beirut Wednesday by U.N. envoy Lakhdar Brahimi only affirmed Lebanese fears of the widening repercussions of the Syria crisis on neighboring countries, including Lebanon.

Brahimi deliberately chose Beirut to issue his warning of the dangers of the widening Syria crisis, which will "consume everything and everybody."

His remarks did not obscure the complexities of the salary crisis and the whirlpool of strikes caused by it.

Another issue that raised concerns during the "Conference of Natural Disaster Management” was the risk of earthquakes.

U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Robert Watkins warned in an interjection during the conference that Lebanon is highly vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis in addition to natural disasters.

However, he underlined the need for a number of measures that would reduce the risk.

In remarks to An-Nahar late Wednesday, Moeen Hamzeh, the secretary-general of the National Council for Scientific Research, said that Watkins meant to “urge the Lebanese government to hasten the establishment of the Independent Disaster Management Committee in Lebanon.”


Government increases taxes on bank interest, cars, construction, water and UCC does not trust [Cabinet]

Lebanon will see strikes Thursday by the Union Coordination Committee after a draft proposal for a salary hike entered the negotiations bazaar.

Cabinet’s procrastination prompted the UCC to observe a daylong strike today, which includes the public sector and schools – even though educational institutions, especially Catholic schools, tried to distance themselves from the strike, insisting on having a normal teaching schedule.

Under the slogan “Let’s take our time so that we don’t take a step that will lead to a vacuum" the government continued to look into a list of tax measures submitted by Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi that has 20 tax clauses.

Safadi’s list is not even complete, pending the drafting of legal texts expected to be settled by the Finance Ministry prior to the Oct. 31 Cabinet meeting which will be dedicated to finalizing the pay hikes before referral to Parliament.

Al-Joumhouria has learned that the Cabinet approved 15 of the 20 tax clauses. These include taxes on bank interest, construction permits, water investment licenses, coastal property and additional taxes on motor vehicles.

By adopting this approach, the government aims to secure LL2,125 billion to cover the pay scale and the 2013 budget deficit?


Government doubles taxes and fails to address Thursday’s strike

As was expected, the government did not find a way out of the impasse, apart from imposing taxes and fees on citizens.

Nonetheless, the government remained unable to fund a salary hike and gave itself additional time - till Oct. 31 - to finalize the issue.

The Union Coordination Committee, not convinced with the deadline, stressed that schools, the Lebanese University and public departments would observe a strike Thursday.

The Cabinet discussed Wednesday proposals for the salary increase. Information Minister Walid Daouk said following the meeting that the government considered raising taxes on bank interest – from 5 percent to 7 percent – on motor vehicles – from 10 percent to 15 percent – and on construction licenses.

The proposals also included doubling fees charged by notaries.


Brahimi warns of expansion of Syria crisis, Assad’s ambassador questions call for cease-fire

Strike today and demonstrations next week

From Beirut, U.N envoy to Syria Lakhdar Brahimi sounded the alarm as he warned that “the Syria crisis could consume everything and everybody if not contained."

However, the humanitarian response to Brahimi’s call for a cease-fire on the eve of Eid al-Adha also found criticism in Beirut: Syria’s Ambassador [to Lebanon] Ali Abdel-Karim Ali said the call for a cease-fire “does not reflect good faith.”

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