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The Lebanese cabinet on Wednesday rejected the proposal of Labor Minister Charbel Nahhas on wage increase and instead approved another proposal despite the strong objection by Free Patriotic Movement ministers.

“The plan we proposed was rejected and they adopted a hybrid plan, and I announce to the Lebanese that the minimum wage did not hit the mark of 1.2 million L.L. or even 960,000 L.L. as they were expecting,” New TV quoted Nahhas as saying after leaving the cabinet session.

Briefing reporters after the cabinet session, Information Minister Walid al-Daouq said: “A wage increase proposal other than that proposed by Minister Nahhas was discussed and it received the required majority of votes and this is the democratic game.”

Daouq explained that the minimum wage was raised to 600,000 LL, while wages between 500,000 LL and 1 million LL where raised by 30 percent on the condition that the increase is minimum 150,000 LL and maximum 200,000 LL.

As for the wages exceeding 1 million LL, the cabinet agreed to a 20 percent raise as long as the increase does not exceed 275,000 LL, he added.

The cabinet also agreed to raise the annual scholarship amount for college students from 1 million to 1.5 million LL

The information minister said that the approved wage plan was proposed by Prime Minister Najib Mikati

LBC TV reported that “dismay showed on the faces of FPM ministers as they left the session.”

MTV reported that Prime Minister Najib Miqati opened the session by “calling on everyone to respect each other and resort to constitutional institutions,” saying “let no one try to intimidate the premier or threaten to boycott cabinet.” A possible reference to Free Patriotic Movement ministers whose leader MP Michel Aoun has been threatening to boycott the cabinet sessions.

According to al Liwa newspaper Mikati was able to secure the vote for his wage plan because several of Aoun’s allies sided with the PM’s plan .

Nahhas’ proposal

Nahhas’ proposal stipulates increasing the minimum wage to 750,000 LL and an increasing all other wages by a maximum of 300,000 LL.”

Loans to ministries

Daouq also told reporters that the cabinet agreed to grant loans to a number of ministries,including the ministries of education, culture and interior, sports and Finance.

Complaint to UN

Daouq also said that President Michel Suleiman directed Foreign Affairs Minister Adnan Mansour to file a complaint with the United Nations regarding the Israeli espionage device that was uncovered in Deir Kifa last week.

The Israeli army on December 2 detonated the device that had been monitoring Hezbollah’s private communications network, according Hezbollah.

National dialogue

Daouq also said that Mikati called on the president to hold a national dialogue session in light of the current difficult situation and without any prior conditions or agenda.”

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