Miqati Says Cabinet Not Challenging Economic Committees, Wage Scale Session Postponed

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Prime Minister Najib Miqati stressed on Monday that the new wage scale isn't a challenge between his cabinet and the Economic Committees after a session at the Baabda Palace to discuss the matter was postponed.

“We are committed to refer the new wage scale to the parliament. We are still discussing the repercussions of approving it completely,” Miqati told reporters at the Grand Serail after chairing a meeting for a ministerial committee tasked with studying the new wage scale for the public sector.

The premier pointed out that the government delayed referring the draft-law to the parliament in an attempt to secure the revenues without causing any budget deficit.

Miqati stressed that the matter is linked to the economy and must be achieved without causing any negating repercussions on the society.

He called on the Syndicate Coordination Committee to reconsider its decision to hold an open-ended strike on Tuesday.

“I called for a cabinet session on Monday to refer the new wage scale to the parliament but we failed to allocate all the resources to fund it, thus we postponed it,” Miqati told reporters.

Miqati had called for the session to avert the scheduled strike of the SCC, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees.

However, the SCC issued a statement swiftly after the postponement of the cabinet session confirming it would go ahead with its protest on Tuesday.

Demonstrators were asked to rally near the Grand Serail at 11:00 a.m.

The Economic Committees, a grouping of the country's businessmen and owners of major firms, criticized on Saturday Miqati, announcing the “failure of the economic dialogue in light of the premier's unilateral action.”

The premier's scheduling of a cabinet session is a violation of the pledges he made to the Economic Committees during which he vowed to ensure its participation in finding a solution to the funding of the new wage scale, the committees said.

The cabinet which was expected to convene at 4:00 p.m. at the Baabda Palace was set to hold crunch talks with one article on its agenda.

An Nahar newspaper reported earlier that the cabinet will fail to end the thorny issue over the failure of the Directorate General of Urban Planning of carrying out a study over profits from real estate.

Local newspapers said that the cabinet is mulling slapping taxes on real state to cover the expenses of the new salary scale.

Economy Minister Nicolas Nahhas told As Safir newspaper that if the members of the cabinet agreed on the funding sources then the new wage scale will be referred immediately to the parliament.

The cabinet has been stalling in finding sources to fund the scale that was approved last year, leading to growing differences with the SCC, which has been accusing it of negligence.

However, the government argues that it is delaying the decision on the funding in an attempt to thoroughly discuss plans to boost the treasury's revenue to cover the expenses of the salaries boost.

The state treasury will have more than $1.2 billion to cover over the presence of 180,000 public sector employees including military personnel.

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