Remember that $200 bribe, T-shirt, and free meal you got last parliamentary elections back in 2009? Well, good news! That money is sure coming in handy because you guessed it, in order to fund the new salary hike for civil servants and public & private teachers, the Lebanese Parliament began discussing a tax increase.
While dozens of civilians were protesting in Beirut’s Riad Al Solh square against a 1 percentage point increase in the value of added tax from 10 to 11 percent, Lebanese MP Antoine Zahra had the urge to feel offended due to the fact that a sign claiming “128 thieves” -in reference to Lebanon’s 128 MPs- was waved high by civilians. In response to Zahra’s stance, protesters in Riad Al Solh chanted “Go Home, Zahra” in unity.
Activists have denounced the decision of added tax, which directly affects low income groups due to its impact on the price of everyday goods.
Despite being organized by Lebanese parties including The National Liberal Party and the Kataeb Party in addition to the You Stink and We Want Accountability movements, only the Lebanese flag was raised and the protest was peaceful to certain extents to say the least.
Benefiting from the recent increase in taxes, several traders have raised their prices to exploit the fuss over the new taxes that are expected to be imposed when the Parliament endorses the new wage scale. “Several shops have raised the prices without any justification,” Economy Minister Raed Khoury said in a statement issued by his press office. The statement warned that the ministry will take strict measures against any attempt to raise prices.
“Funding the new salary scale shouldn’t be at the expense of the poor,” another placard said.
Thursday’s double-protests organized by The Kataeb Party at 5 and the You Stink movement at 7 were the spark of a public outrage. On Friday, another march organized by The National Liberal Party and The Kataeb took place in Beirut’s Riad Al Solh square. Moving towards the Bekaa, a demonstration took place in Chtaura while a similar protest took place in the Northern district of Minyeh. Another rally is scheduled for Sunday in Downtown Beirut’s Martyr’s Square starting 12 P.M.