Laws for the people?

Part time EDL workers protest in Beirut, Tuesday, April 1, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mohammad Azakir)

While it is partly positive that Parliament is finally getting around to passing legislation that has been on hold for years, it is important that this is not done in a haphazard way or on politicized whims.

The passing of the law governing Electricite du Liban workers Wednesday, which grants contract workers full-time employment, came under pressure from Speaker Nabih Berri, who is aware that many of the EDL workers who have been striking are supporters of his party. This was not about a concern for workers’ rights, but appeasing his electorate.

It is clear that on many issues, legislation, which should be Parliament’s raison d’etre, is becoming its tool, used to secure sectarian support, not judged based on what would best benefit Lebanon.

The inadequate domestic violence law, passed Tuesday, is another example. Some 70 MPs claimed to have wanted to discuss amendments before it passed, but this did not happen. Was this opposition a lie? Why was it then voted through?

On the salary increase for public workers, which looks set to be passed soon, many from the Finance Ministry, the Central Bank and economists have cautioned against it, saying the funds simply don’t exist. If a wage hike for state workers is extended to the private sector, as some are already demanding, it is likely that many businesses will simply have to fire large numbers of staff. What looks like a positive step is nothing of the sort.

Shortsighted, populist decision-making in Parliament is dangerous and does not benefit Lebanon. Those MPs must be held accountable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on April 03, 2014, on page 7.




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