Berri: I Can't Believe the President Might Return Wage Scale to Parliament

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Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri has announced that he strongly doubts President Michel Aoun could return the approved wage scale bill to Parliament.

“I can't believe that the president might resort to the step of returning the wage scale to Parliament, because it is a right to its beneficiaries, knowing that he has constitutional jurisdiction that allows him to take the appropriate stance in line with his powers,” Berri told his visitors.

“Should it be returned, Parliament will practice its role in this regard and it will study the reasons and take the appropriate decision,” Berri added.

Later on Wednesday, Aoun announced that he is studying the new wage scale bill, noting that it “must balance between rights and economic stability.”

“A conflict of interest between the various segments of society would lead to social disturbances and the flaw must be rectified,” the president warned.

Kataeb Party chief MP Sami Gemayel has recently called on Aoun not to sign the tax law and to return it to the legislature, warning of a possible “economic disaster.”

“The president has the ability to stop the crime that will be committed against the Lebanese people and economy,” Gemayel warned.

He cautioned that the taxes that have been approved would lower citizens' purchasing power “by 10 to 20%” and would also push “more than 100,000 citizens below the poverty line,” citing studies by the American University of Beirut.

Gemayel also quoted Father Butros Azar, the secretary general of Catholic schools, as saying that school tuitions would rise an average of 27%.

“The prices of apartments will also rise and our youths will suffer,” the young MP cautioned.

The new taxes involve hiking the VAT tax from 10% to 11%, fines on seaside violations, and taxes on cement, administrative transactions, sea imports, lottery prizes, financial firms and banks.

Authorities have argued that the new taxes are necessary to fund the new wage scale but opponents of such a move have called for finding new revenues through putting an end to corruption and the waste of public money.