BEIRUT: Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati signed a decree Monday to authorize the advance payment of LL1.2 trillion ($800 million) to pay the salaries of public sector employees.
The Finance Ministry will issue LL1.2 trillion of Treasury bills.
Caretaker Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi told The Daily Star earlier that there wouldn’t be any problem paying the salaries of the public sectors, denying some media reports that the Treasury did not have sufficient cash to cover the wages.
Nearly 35 percent of total government revenues goes toward the salaries of 180,000 civil servants, military and security forces personnel, and public school teachers.
Critics say that the size of the public sector is too large for a small country like Lebanon but shy away from calling for the mass layoff of these employees.
All of the recent Lebanese governments have been reluctant to address the size of the public sector.
The cost of the public sector salaries is expected to further strain the budget if the Parliament issues final approval for the controversial new salary scale.
According to Safadi, the cost of the salary hike for the public employees and school teachers will exceed $1 billion in the first year.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on September 17, 2013, on page 5.