Naharnet

Report: Govt. 'Mulling' Pay Cuts as It Seeks to Reduce Deficit

The focus of political forces, citizens and trade union bodies continues on the latest debate on reducing the budget deficit, which some government components aim to achieve “at the expense of public sector employees and the investment and operating expenses of the state,” al-Akhbar daily reported on Tuesday.

As part of austerity measures, Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil “has prepared a procedure plan that includes cuts described by all as painful and unpopular,’ said the daily.

Although the plan’s details were not revealed, but the measures are reportedly to “affect the salaries of public sector employees, salaries of senior officials in the state institutions, the Central Bank of Lebanon and others,” it added.

There is consensus among all the political components to adopt austerity measures to control a growing budget deficit, and counter economic woes facing the country.

However, media reports have all assured that reported plans to cut public sector pay are still a mere “presumption,” and that remarks made by Foreign Minister Jebran Bassil about pay cuts “does not mean they will be approved.”

Al-Akhbar said that an extensive meeting held earlier between Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Ministers of Foreign Jebran Bassil, Finance Ali Hassan Khalil, Education Akram Shehayyeb, Social Affairs Richard Kouyoumjian, and joined by the Assistant Secretary-General of Hizbullah, Hajj Hussein Khalil, will be followed by several meetings to complete discussions of the proposals submitted by the Minister of Finance.

"The meeting lasted beyond midnight," where Hariri warned saying “the country is about to be ruined," said al-Akhbar.

For his part, Khalil reportedly presented around 30 pages of suggestions to cut spending that included social contributions, charitable organizations, customs exemptions, and others.

Regarding the issue of salaries, informed sources said “there are a number of formulas but no complete study about any.”

Source: Naharnet


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