Berri Says Wage Scale Will be Approved but Electoral Law Comes First


Speaker Nabih Berri assured on Monday that approving the wage scale is a rightful people's demand which will eventually be approved, but stressed that efforts must first focus on agreeing an electoral law for the upcoming polls because it is more pressing, An Nahar daily reported.

“The wage scale is going to be approved in the end and the parliament is requested to approve it. It's the people's rightful demand,” Berri told the daily.

“The government is responsible for finding the revenues to fund the scale,” he added.

Berri's comments came after several thousand people descended to the Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut on Sunday to protest proposed tax hikes to cover a salary increase for teachers and other public servants.

So far, parliament has proposed to increase value-added tax by one percent to a total of 11 percent, as well as hike taxes on tobacco, imported alcohol, and travel.

On an electoral law for Lebanon's parliamentary elections, Berri reiterated refusal for the extension of the parliament's term and warned that a failure would lead to the State's total obstruction, al-Akhbar daily said.

“There is a clear possibility to agree on a new law within a couple of days. Failure to agree on a new law will push the country into vacuum that will technically lead to the obstruction of the entire State,” warned Berri.

The country has not organized parliamentary elections since 2009 and the parliament has since extended its own mandate twice.

Hizbullah has repeatedly called for an electoral law fully based on proportional representation but al-Mustaqbal Movement and Druze leader MP Walid Jumblat have both rejected the proposal.

Mustaqbal argues that Hizbullah's arms would prevent serious competition in the party's strongholds while Jumblat has warned that such an electoral system would “marginalize” the minority Druze community whose presence is concentrated in the Chouf and Aley areas.

The political parties are meanwhile discussing a so-called hybrid electoral law that mixes proportional representation with the winner-takes-all system.

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