Berri Seeks to Reassure Jumblat over Wage Scale as National Struggle Front Remains Skepticalإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Speaker Nabih Berri sought to appease on Monday Progressive Socialist Party chief Walid Jumblat, who has expressed fears over the state's failure to fund a new wage scale deliberated by lawmakers.
In remarks carried by local dailies on Monday, Berri said: “When Mr. Walid checks the chart, he will be reassured and find the reform articles that have been introduced (to the draft-law) to prevent squandering of funds and corruption.”
Jumblat has stressed the importance of reform at public administrations to ensure the success of the implementation of new wage scale, a position echoed later on Monday by his National Struggle Front.
He told An Nahar daily on Sunday that his parliamentary bloc will vote against the draft-law “if it lacked clear means of funding.”
“We will not advocate the scale, despite the legitimate need for it,” he said.
In similar remarks to As Safir newspaper on Monday, the PSP chief warned against any “irrational move.”
“We waited for a long time. So we can have a little more patience to consolidate the scale and protect the economy,” he said.
Later on Monday, Jumblat chaired a meeting for the National Struggle Front.
It called for keeping the dispute over the new wage scale away from popular and media debates that “do not help achieve the desired solutions” over the pay raise.
“The solution should strike a balance between rightful popular demands, maintaining a sound economy, protecting the national currency, and preventing the collapse of what remains of the Lebanese entity,” it said.
“The most dangerous aspect of the wage scale dispute is attempts to make the people believe that the theoretical approval of the scale will fall in their favor,” it noted.
“In the best case scenario, the approval of the wage scale will lead to inflation that will eat away at all the acquired rights,” it explained.
“In the worst case scenario, the approval of the pay raise will lead to economic and financial collapse during a very complicated local and regional political climate,” continued the National Struggle Front.
“It would be difficult to imagine that any foreign aid will be sent to Lebanon should this scenario take place,” it stated.
The bloc hailed the reform measures included in the new wage scale draft-law, noting however that they are not sufficient in providing all needed resources to fund the raise.
It hoped that all members of the political class would exert efforts to launch the most comprehensive reform operation in Lebanon instead of “making heroic stands that are not based on actual facts.”
It expressed its “complete openness” to discuss any serious reform proposals that will help end the crisis, saying that it will keep its meetings open in order to continue addressing this national affair.
The joint parliamentary committees have given the green light to the pay raise which has been put on the agenda of the legislature on Tuesday for approval.
Despite the move, the Syndicate Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, called for a protest near the parliament in downtown Beirut on Tuesday to pressure MPs into approving the pay raise without slashing the 121 percent wage hike demanded by the grouping or making the payments in installments.
But Berri said a middle-ground solution was found to make the installments over a span of three years so that the economy would be able to cope with the burden.
The SCC, which has held several protests, has also warned of holding an open-ended strike and of boycotting the correction of official exams if parliament failed to meet its demands.