BEIRUT: The Lebanese Communist Party Saturday rallied on Beirut's Hamra Street to protest proposed taxes by the Parliament to fund the new wage hike for public employees.
Hundreds of demonstrators gathered outside the headquarters of the Central Bank of Lebanon to demand a flexible salary scale and more benefits for workers and employees.
“They do not want to give rights to the laborers,” LCP chief Hanna Gharib said, calling on the Lebanese “who have been affected to take to the streets.”
The Lebanese government plans to increase the VAT from 10 to 11 percent, a measure which is supposed to generate $200 million in revenue for the Treasury annually.
“They imposed taxes and they have not granted people their rights,” Gharib said, blaming state officials for the exacerbated financial crisis. “The policies have led the Lebanese to poverty,” he added.
The tax increases will serve to fund a new salary scale bill estimated at LL 1.2 trillion ($800 million).
“We want to build a different state,” Gharib said, calling for a “unified leadership for the protests.”
The protesters also rejected new direct and indirect taxes, demanding that taxes be imposed on banks and corporations instead.
They held Lebanese and LCP flags alongside banners, some of which blasted the government and the new planned taxes.
"Toward change: Impose cumulative taxes on the rich to finance the people and public services," one large banner read.
"Abolish embezzlement and corruption," another read.
“We, the youth of Lebanon, ... are forced to immigrate,” a protester said on behalf of the Union of Lebanese Democratic Youth. “You are corrosively displacing us.”
The demonstrators later marched to the Association of Banks headquarters in the Saifi area of Downtown Beirut and gathered at the intersection leading to Gemmayzeh Street.
"We will have a central demonstration in Beirut tomorrow [Sunday]," a demonstrator told local MTV channel.
Various civil society movements, groups and even political parties have been rallying since Thursday against the proposed taxes.