Lebanon News

Mikati says new taxes will not burden ordinary citizens

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, left, speaks with Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami during a Cabinet session at the Grand Serail in Beirut, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012. (The Daily Star/Dalati Nohra, HO)

BEIRUT: Prime Minister Najib Mikati said Friday that additional taxes, fines and fees to finance the new salary scale for the public sector will be applied to sectors far removed from the daily lives of most citizens.

“Financing the salary scale will come from sectors that do not directly affect the daily lives of citizens, including fines imposed on coastal property violations,” Mikati said on his Twitter feed.

“No to salaries without revenue and no to revenues that burden the citizens or new taxes,” he proclaimed.

The Cabinet approved a new salary scale Thursday that has long been sought by the public sector; it is estimated that it will cost the government $1.6 billion annually. Ministers also approved a series of financial measures to secure funding for the raise.

According to acting Information Minister Wael Abu Faour, who spoke to reporters after the end of the seven-hour session, the measures included imposing fines on coastal properties, a tax on interest rates for bank deposits, a tax on real estate renovation, and fees in exchange for construction permits.

Ministers still need to determine a mechanism to levy the taxes, fines and fees.

Mikati touted his Cabinet’s decision to raise public sector salaries as a major achievement, saying that no government has revised salaries since 1996.

“The salary scale is an achievement for the government, which has embarked on studying and approving many proposals, despite campaigns against it since its formation,” the prime minister noted.

Mikati voiced displeasure with those accusing the government of stalling on important issues, saying his Cabinet has proven its critics wrong.

“Many have bet that this government would falter and fail, but it is proving daily that it continues to do its work and is dedicated to being productive and resolving issues,” he said.





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