Joint Parliamentary Committees Finalize Wage Scale, Refer It to Parliament
The Joint Parliamentary Committees on Thursday finalized the draft new wage scale and referred it to parliament.
“It has been agreed to grant non-commissioned officers a one degree hike in addition to the increase that was granted yesterday to soldiers, whose salaries will jump monthly from 655,000 to 988000 Lebanese pounds,” the head of the Finance Parliamentary Committee, MP Ibrahim Kanaan, announced after the session.
Public administration employees will meanwhile get two degrees while public school teachers will get three degrees.
“As for revenues, we were keen not to target ordinary citizens with taxes and fees,” Kanaan added.
“The cost of 1,200 billion Lebanese pounds is difficult to secure and it needs reforms, but these reforms need time to be achieved,” Kanaan went on to say, defending the new taxes that have been approved.
The Loyalty to Resistance bloc meanwhile voted against hiking the VAT tax from 10 to 11% as the Kataeb Party voted against all the proposed taxes and fees.
“We rejected all the revenues that were proposed today. There is a wage scale that needs to be funded and we all support its funding and we will vote for the rights and for the new wage scale,” Kataeb chief MP Sami Gemayel announced in a press conference.
He stressed that instead of imposing new taxes on citizens and institutions, the State should seek to end “tax evasion” and “corruption in the customs administration, the electricity sector, the airport, the port, the tenders, the waste management file, the rented buildings and the aid that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars that goes to associations loyal to influential figures, state officials and political parties.”
Education Minister Marwan Hamadeh had earlier in the day walked out of the session in protest at what he called injustice against public school teachers.
“The wage scale is fair for administrative employees and the members of the armed forces but it marginalizes teachers of all levels. That's why I have walked out of the Committees' session and I hope the academic year will not be suspended,” Hamadeh told reporters.
Kanaan had announced Wednesday that “reforms are essential for securing funds and preserving financial stability in the country.”
Admitting that the approved parts fell short of the expectations of civil servants and the members of the armed forces, the MP said “what happened does not satisfy all people and does not meet the aspirations of teachers and the armed forces.”
Speaker Nabih Berri is expected to call a March 15 legislative session and the wage scale will be on its agenda.
The Syndical Coordination Committee, a coalition of private and public school teachers and public sector employees, has been pushing for the approval of the new wage scale for several years now and has organized numerous street protests and strikes to this end.