Cabinet convenes over municipal polls, wages, amid protests


Cabinet on Tuesday agreed to increase the private sector’s minimum monthly wage from 2.6 million to 9 million pounds, worth $92.50 at the country’s black market rate, which dominates the market. The ministers also raised the exchange rate used for calculating customs fees from 30,000 pounds to the dollar to the central bank’s Sayrafa platform, where the dollar is valued at 86,700 pounds.

Parliament earlier on Tuesday postponed municipal elections for up to a year amid concerns the government would not be able to secure the needed funding in time for the polling.

Some MPs blamed caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, who attended the session, for the postponement of the municipal vote.

"If you really don't want to postpone the municipal elections, you wouldn't have attended the session today," Mikati responded to the MPs.

Cabinet has possible solutions to the municipal elections, he said, adding that elections might be held on May 21 instead of May 7.

But later, at the beginning of the session, Mikati said that after parliament postponed municipal elections, cabinet now has more time to discuss the elections file.

He urged the Interior Minister to hold meetings with governors, security leaders, judges, and teachers and to present a study including the new dates and the cost of the elections, to be discussed and ratified in the next cabinet session.

Meanwhile, outside the Grand Serail, security forces fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters, including retired soldiers, who tried to break through the fence leading to the government headquarters.

"We understand the protesters' outcry and we are here to discuss their rightful demands within the treasury's available capabilities," Mikati said at the beginning of the session.

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