BEIRUT — The caretaker government, headed by Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, announced Monday that it has suspended a controversial recent salary increase for judges, via a mechanism that allowed them to withdraw their money at the rate of LL8,000 to the dollar instead of LL1,500, the state-run National News Agency reported. The government also announced a pay increase for public employees across the board.
Here’s what we know:
• The announcement halts a recent decision — reportedly by Banque du Liban, although a central bank spokesperson has denied it — to increase judges’ salaries by changing the rate at which they can withdraw from the banks. The move allowed judges to withdraw their salaries at an exchange rate of LL8,000 to the dollar, rather than the official rate at LL1,500. This measure has been criticized as having been implemented without going through the proper channels and as and treating other civil servants unequally.
• The ministerial committee in charge of dealing with the repercussions of the financial crisis on the functioning of the public sector held a meeting Monday headed by Mikati and attended by Deputy Prime Minister Saade Chami and some caretaker ministers.
• The committee also announced a new social assistance payment, equivalent to a full salary, for all civil servants, who have been on an open-ended strike since mid-June. The employees, who still get paid in lira, have been protesting the deterioration of their working conditions and demanding to have their salaries adjusted to the country’s rampant inflation.
• Lebanese air traffic controllers announced earlier this month that they will halt their night shifts starting Aug. 1 due to worsening working conditions at Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport. Meanwhile, full-time professors at Lebanese University are refusing to grade student exams as they are on strike.
• “We agreed on the need to treat civil servants equally, without exceptions. Any measure taken in recent days will be suspended,” announced caretaker Labor Minister Mustafa Bayram, referring to the salary revaluation of judges. He said in this regard that the ministers issued an exceptional decree to pay employees of the public sector “a new social assistance equivalent to a full salary, which will be paid from July.” Bayram did not specify for how long the assistance would be provided, saying that “as long as the finances are secured, the assistance will be paid.”
• The government also increased the daily transport allowances from 65,000 to LL95,000.
• Bayram said, however, that these decisions are “conditional on the presence of civil servants in the premises at least two days a week, in order to meet the needs of citizens and ensure revenue to the Treasury,” adding that “this solution is temporary until the draft budget of the current year is adopted.”
• Bayram also said that the caretaker cabinet “will consider doubling the salaries of civil servants after the budget is passed” and if the state's revenues allow it. “We will [continue to] pay the previously approved social assistance, which is equivalent to half of their basic salary of May and June,” he noted. The decree (No. 8737) issued last January grants exceptional aid to all categories of civil servants equivalent to half of their basic salaries, or between LL1.5 million and LL3 million per employee per month.
BEIRUT — The caretaker government, headed by Prime Minister-designate Najib Mikati, announced Monday that it has suspended a controversial recent salary increase for judges, via a mechanism that allowed them to withdraw their money at the rate of LL8,000 to the dollar instead of LL1,500, the state-run National News Agency reported. The government also announced a pay increase for public...