Rola Ibrahim – News
As soon as public sector workers went on strike on June 13, Prime Minister Najib Mikati recalled a phrase used by the government when it deceived depositors and claimed the “sanctity of deposits”. Since then, that is, more than three weeks ago, Mikati has not moved a finger, but rather thrown the fireball into the arms of the caretaker Minister of Labor, Mustafa Bayram. The latter resigned from this mission two days ago for what he described as “contempt and skepticism stemming from functional groups”. Practically speaking, Mikati did not care about the public sector or his employees, but he and other owners of capital have always regarded workers in the public sector as a burden on the state and described the public sector as unproductive. Today, after the collapse of this sector, they just want it to be a way to approve the customs dollar, that is, a justification for raising taxes. He therefore does not think the correction of workers’ wages is necessary, but rather that their loyalties can be bought with an increase in social assistance through a low wage upgrade.
The Minister of Labor has been accused of negotiating with the Public Administration Employees’ Association until the meeting that took place in the Government Palace on Monday. The meeting was attended by Mikati by Bairam and Minister of Finance Youssef Al-Khalil, Minister of State for Administrative Development Najla Riachi, Minister of Communications Johnny Corm, Head of the Audit Bureau Muhammad Badran, President of the Public Service Council Nasreen Mashmoushi, and Head of Central Inspection George Attieh. During the meeting, three points were agreed upon:
Conversion of social assistance to a full salary after it has been equivalent to half a salary, payable from July, and with retroactive effect even if it has not been paid at the beginning of the month, provided that the employee completes the administration for at least two days per week.
– Increase the transport allowance to 85 thousand pounds for each day of attendance.
Increasing the hospitalization budget fourfold and school aid fivefold.
So far, these “reforms” have been verbal. This does not mean that there is a different approach by the government in correcting the wages of workers in the public sector other than the patchwork method. This is what Mikati and the rest of the authorities want, see what happens. But the question: Why was the Minister of Finance not tasked with negotiating with public sector employees, who is the government directly involved in this matter? Why does Mikati want to ease this burden on Hebron and load it into Bayram? What happened anyway was that at the end of the meeting it was decided to appoint the Minister of Finance to secure the financing, after which another meeting would be held to fix the mechanism for the distribution of funds. set. However, Hebron rejected the first clause of the Public Administration Employees’ Association’s demands to adjust wages according to the dollar exchange rate, that is, to transfer their salaries to the 1500 liras dollars, and then pay them in liras according to the dollar’s bank exchange rate of 8000 liras. The finance minister’s argument is that his study shows an increase in inflation if employees’ demands are met. The Minister of Finance did not seem to pay attention to the current inflation rates caused by the Governor of the Banque du Liban, Riad Salameh, when Al-Khalil was director of financial operations at the Banque du Liban, and one of his most prominent assistants. Nevertheless, Al-Khalil began speaking the famous Miqati language: making promises. Therefore, he promised the employees to adjust their wages if the budget is approved and the state’s revenue will be increased through the application of new fees and taxes. Surprisingly, neither Al-Khalil nor Mikati care about the impact of these taxes on inflation, or their results on poverty rates, especially on public sector employees in the first place. In addition, Hebron, along with Mikati, who is primarily responsible for managing all the crisis, realizes that the approval of the budget has been suspended until after the end of the term of President Michel Aoun, because they are against any step that can be recorded. . for the covenant. The easiest victim in this comparison is the public sector serving personal goals and political rivalry. Moreover, the disintegration of public institutions and the collapse of the sector as a whole are in line with what this government has been promoting for decades about the lack of productivity and feasibility of this sector and the corruption it erodes.
In fact, this political class bears the responsibility for the economic pattern that has existed since the 1990s, and for all the clientelism that has plagued public administrations, but today it speaks to the inefficiency of employees, as I talked about before. the cost of the public sector to the treasury. Today, appeal for the suspension of the public sector is disrupting economic life!
The postponement to improve the situation of employees in spite of all that it causes in the continuation of the strike and paralyze the country with its ports, airports, administrations, institutions and sectors is not in vain, especially since the implementation of the public sector the efforts to privatize communications, electricity and the port of which Mikati and others dream, and serves the sale of state assets after locking her breath. But in the first place, it meets the conditions of the IMF by “rationalizing” this sector and making no correction to its employees, neither in salaries nor in rights. Although the process of “rationalization” took place spontaneously due to the migration of the majority of young people from official departments to private positions or abroad. This is confirmed by the head of the Public Administration Employees Association, Nawal Nasr, in her interview with Al-Akhbar by noting that the public sector has started to shrink, and many employees have left, most of them of the young energies that make up . the elite. Nasr believes that they have “made many concessions, such as giving up the price index and a large part of the rights and needs. However, we insist on receiving our salaries according to the minimum bank dollar, ie £ 8,000, even if this comparison loses the equivalent of 70% of the value of our salaries. ” And she pointed out that “public administrations’ evidence of their success has contributed more to their target, and the lack of response to employee rights can only be understood within the framework of the deliberate collapse of the state and the syrup of its competent human framework. ” The demands are low and have no privileges, but they contribute to securing the simple necessities of life for the citizen temporarily: correction of salaries and pensions, insurance of hospital cover that prevents employees in the public sector from dying at the gates of hospitals, and increasing the transportation allowance in a manner commensurate with the price of gasoline. It seems that the government, with its president and finance minister, is not interested in the employee’s death, but rather is moving forward. And when those responsible for the crisis decide to hold a meeting to discuss the demands of the employees, they remind themselves of the discussion of the employees’ association and do not even inform them about the decisions they have made!