Report: Dialogue Meeting over Wage Scale 'Helps President' Take Right Decision
President Michel Aoun has invited all parties concerned with the wage scale file for a dialogue meeting on Monday, in order to become “acquainted with the different points of view in preparation for exercising his constitutional right”, al-Joumhouria daily reported on Friday.
“Aoun has called for a dialogue so as to be enlightened with the opinions of parties concerned with the wage scale in preparation for exercising his constitutional right to make the appropriate decision,” sources of the Baabda Presidential Palace told the daily.
“He wants to listen to everyone in order to set the picture straight,” they added.
On Thursday, Aoun has called for a dialogue meeting next week at the Baabda palace to discuss the various points of dispute and disagreement over the recently approved salary scale bill and the new batch of taxes to fund said scale.
The dialogue meeting will be attended by Prime Minister Saad Hariri, concerned ministers, Central Bank Governor, and representatives of the economic, labor and financial institutions, as well as free professions, private schools and teachers Syndicates' heads.
President Aoun had met on Thursday at the Baabda palace with Finance Minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, who said that they discussed the general financial situation in the country and details pertaining to the wage scale, in terms of revenues and expenses.
Aoun has yet to sign the wage scale and the tax measures that were approved by the parliament in July. The parliament has approved a new batch of taxes to finance the scale.
Fears mount that Aoun could use his constitutional jurisdiction and return the approved wage scale bill to parliament if it does not “balance between rights and economic stability.”
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
Baabda sources said they were astonished at attempts to portray the call for dialogue as “undermining the state's institutions.” They said the dialogue is necessary namely on a “sensitive subject that is supposed to be addressed with rationality and objectivity.”