Hundreds of people took to streets in central Beirut on Sunday against proposed tax rises that the Lebanese parliament is considering to fund a new wage increase for public employees.
Carrying placards and banners, more than a thousand protesters flocked to Riad Al-Solh square, chanting “We will not pay” and waving Lebanese flags.
Scores of policemen barricaded the entrances to the government headquarters and parliament during the protest, which followed three days of smaller demonstrations in Beirut.
Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah called on the government yesterday to deal with the matter in a conscious and fair way.
“We support the wage scale because it is a natural right. As for the taxes, it wouldn’t be a problem to impose them on seashore investments or on luxurious stuff. However, taxes should be fair. They shouldn’t be imposed on poor people or low paid workers, and this has been our stance since 1992, as we have never voted for increasing taxes on low paid workers,” Sayyed Nasrallah said.
His eminence indicated that “the wage scale can be approved by avoiding unnecessary payments and imposing taxes in specific fields, but not on the poor people,” calling on politicians to stand on the side of the poor people at least for once.
Lebanese authorities are seeking to raise taxes to help agree a deal on public sector pay rises, part of a wider effort to approve the country’s first state budget in 12 years.
Various civil society groups and some leading political parties have called for people to take to the streets and protest against the taxes in recent days.