Report: 2015 State Budget Hindering Adoption of New Wage Scale

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Complications loomed over the adoption of the wage scale for the public sector after a meeting between lawmakers, who discussed the impossibility of endorsing the new draft-law in the absence of the 2015 state budget.

Al-Joumhouria newspaper published on Saturday said that a meeting was held at the residence of al-Mustaqbal parliamentary bloc head Fouad Saniora with Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil, Education Minister Elias Bou Saab and LF MP George Adwan and Mustaqbal lawmaker Jamal al-Jarrah tackled the thorny issue.

The daily said that Saniora highlighted during the meeting the obstacles impeding the adoption of the new wage scale, in particular the failure to set a new state budget.

The newspaper quoted Saniora as saying: “We can not finance the new scale without a state budget.”

Saniora's comments compelled Khalil to contact Prime Minister Tammam Salam after the meeting to discuss the possibility of approving the state budget for the year 2015 at the first opportunity

Al-Joumhouria noted that the meeting that was held on Thursday night failed to bridge the gap between the rivals over the wage scale draft-law.

Speaker Nabih Berri revealed recently his will to call for several parliamentary sessions to approve draft-laws, among them the controversial wage scale.

Berri's decision is expected to stir political controversy.

Parliament's first ordinary session starts mid-march and continues until the end of May while the second kicks off the middle of October through the end of December.

But the absence of a president has compelled Christian parties to claim that the parliament should only convene to elect a new head of state.

Several Christian parties reject to legislate in the absence of a head of state. President Michel Suleiman's term ended in May last year.

However, the speaker hasn't yet invited the parliament's bureau for a meeting because he is hoping that the joint parliamentary committees would approve the wage scale and refer it to the legislature for approval.

Berri has tasked head of the Finance and Budget Committee MP Ibrahim Kanaan with chairing Tuesday's meeting.

Ahead of the session, the lawmaker will hold talks with the Syndicate Coordination Committee to address its demands.

The SCC is a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees that has in recent years spearheaded protests aimed at approving the wage hike.

After postponing several sessions on the controversial issue, the parliament in October returned the draft-law on the salary raise to the joint committees for further discussions.



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