Lebanese Parliament Fails to Pass Draft Law on Salaries Scale

 18 Mar 2017 - 9:55

Lebanese Parliament Fails to Pass Draft Law on Salaries Scale
A Lebanese woman holding her national flag sits in the middle of the street as riot police guard the Grand Serail (the prime minister's headquarters) in downtown Beirut on March 16, 2017, during a protest against the Lebanese Parliament's newly approved taxes. / AFP / PATRICK BAZ


Beirut: Lebanese parliament failed on Thursday to pass a draft law on ranks and salaries scale to increase the salaries and allowances of public workers, amid objections by a number of MPs to increase taxes to fund the salaries and sit-ins in downtown Beirut held by a number of civil movement groups, protesting tax increases approved by the parliament over two days, including a tax increase on consumption.

Deputy House Speaker Farid Makari on Thursday adjourned the parliamentary session that was scheduled to take place today evening to a date to be specified later by House Speaker.

In a statement to Qatar News Agency (QNA) on the sidelines of the parliament's morning session, President of the Kataeb Party MP Sami Gemayel rejected imposing new taxes on the Lebanese and called for putting an end to corruption and tax evasion, estimating annual tax evasion in Lebanon at about $ 1.6 billion.

The Lebanese Parliament completed in the morning session discussions on revenues to finance ranks and salaries scale and approved five new taxes and levies including a 1 percentage point increase to the value-added tax (VAT), raising it to 11 percent.

The President of the Council of Ministers Saad Hariri made a statement in Parliament after the adjournment by Deputy Speaker Farid Makari of the parliamentary session. He addressed the issue of the ranks and salaries scale in the draft budget: "We came in a positive spirit to approve the scale because people need it. Some people know that our political group was reticent about it but we decided to carry on with it because we believe that it is in the interest of the people and it must happen," he was quoted as saying.

In this context, Change and Reform parliamentary bloc MP Alain Aoun, in a statement to QNA, stressed the need for the approval of ranks and salaries scale, which affects 400,000 families.

He also stressed the need to find revenues to finance salaries through the imposition of taxes that does not affect the poor class.

Talking to QNA, Future bloc member MP Amin Wehbe said the wide spectrum of employees covered by the salary increase were not satisfied with the increase in their salaries and allowances, including those working the education sector and those on contracts with state departments, at a time when a segment of the Lebanese people reject taxes.

He stressed the importance of striking balance between expenditure and revenues in approving the draft law on ranks and salaries scale.