BEIRUT — The president of the General Confederation of Workers, Bechara al-Asmar, rejected the decision of Economy Minister Amin Salam to allow Lebanese supermarkets to price foodstuffs in US dollars, calling for its immediate reversal, the state-run National News Agency reported on Sunday.
Asmar described the decision as “hasty” and “ill-considered,” arguing that it cannot be applied in light of the "difference in exchange rates, often going up and sometimes down a few times every hour a day or within a few minutes."
Asmar on Monday called for a nationwide general strike to take place on Feb. 8 to protest the continued deterioration of workers' quality of life, especially following the record depreciation of the national currency and soaring fuel prices.
"While dollarization has already seeped into the various aspects of the lives of the Lebanese, including the prices of electricity and diesel generators, in addition to liberalizing the prices of medicine and other basic services and services, the citizens cannot handle, also, the pricing of foodstuffs in the supermarket in US dollars,” Asmar said.
“This decision is unconstitutional," he added, saying, “The union rejects this decision and calls for its cancelation.”
“From a constitutional and legal point of view, it explicitly contradicts the Monetary and Credit Law issued in 1963 in its first article, which states the following: ‘The monetary unit of the Lebanese Republic is the Lebanese lira, and its official abbreviation is LL,’” Asmar said.
He also said that the eighth paragraph of the Consumer Protection Law states that the “price must be determined in Lebanese lira, and it is permissible, in addition to that, to mention its equivalent in dollars or any other foreign currency.”
“Because this decision was taken by one side, which is the Ministry of Economy with some importers and some supermarket owners, and neither the General Labor Union, which is primarily concerned with the interests and lives of employees, workers and the majority of consumers, nor the bodies concerned with consumer protection, participated in its discussion, we reject it,” he explained.
This new rule also “does not respect fairness in the tax, while the merchant pays the value-added tax (VAT) on a dollar of LL15,000, the citizen-consumer pays this tax on the parallel market price, i.e. the black market, i.e. more than four times what the merchant and importer pay.”
He concluded that “everything is subject to dollarization, except for the wages of workers and employees in the private and public sectors, and the military and security services, which constitute the broadest segments of society.”
In recent years, the Confederation has organized several strikes to demand improved working conditions in Lebanon.
BEIRUT — The president of the General Confederation of Workers, Bechara al-Asmar, rejected the decision of Economy Minister Amin Salam to allow Lebanese supermarkets to price foodstuffs in US dollars, calling for its immediate reversal, the state-run National News Agency reported on Sunday.Asmar described the decision as “hasty” and “ill-considered,” arguing that it cannot be applied...