Khalil Reveals Offer to Scrap Taxes Targeting Banks, Says New Levies Won't Target Poor
Finance Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said on Monday that a tax item that imposes levies on financial institutions is what thwarted the approval of the wage scale in 2014, adding that banking officials have suggested giving the government one billion dollars in return for scrapping the item.
“We have been offered one billion dollars in return for scrapping a tax item that targets Lebanon's banks,” said Khalil in a press interview.
His comments came after a wave of protests in Riad al-Solh Square in downtown Beirut on Sunday rejecting new taxes approved by the parliament as part of measures aimed at funding the long-stalled new wage scale.
He stressed that what happened at the latest parliament session was a “political conspiracy to thwart the wage scale and to settle political differences. The people have the right to be concerned because previous experiences are not encouraging.”
“There might be some flaws in the wage scale which will be addressed during a meeting of representatives of political blocs,” he added, pointing out that some have tried to take advantage of the people's concerns.
Speaking on behalf of the AMAL Movement, the Development and Liberation bloc and as Finance Minister, Khalil said: “We all support the approval of the wage scale which must be paralleled with genuine reforms.”
Khalil clarified: “There is a group of essential items exempted from taxes and those are related to education, health and food,” warning against the imposition of taxes that affect the poor.