Aoun Hopes Dialogue at Baabda Would 'Consider Interests of All'

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President Michel Aoun, on Friday expressed hope that the upcoming economic dialogue meeting at Baabda palace on Monday would find solutions that take into consideration the interests of all the Lebanese regarding the salary scale and taxes, the National News Agency reported on Friday.

The President also assured that he was seeking a “fair solution” for all sides, NNA said.

Aoun has called for a dialogue meeting on Monday 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.

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.
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