Demonstration outside parliament decries new taxes
Lebanon, Economics, 1/23/1998
Thousands of Lebanese youth gathered in front of parliament Thursday to protest proposed tax hikes as deputies debated the cabinet's 1998 draft budget proposal for the third straight day.
At least 3,000 people, including workers, students and teachers joined forces in the morning demonstration, which was spurred mainly by a clause in the draft budget seeking to raise government revenues by increasing the road tax and car registration fees.
A sit-in in front of parliament was called on by Ghaneem Zoghbi, head of the General Labor Confederation. Zoghbi presented Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri with a "list of demands" calling on parliament to block tax hikes, increase the minimum wage and adjust salary scales, as well as other demands.
GLC protesters were later joined by Lebanese University students and teachers who protested government interference in university affairs and increased registration fees.
Some of the protesters shouted anti-government slogans, prompting police to push back the demonstrators, while others held up slogans calling for social equity and fairness.
Meanwhile, the debate continued inside parliament for the third straight day as deputies subsequently took the stage and heaped criticism on the government, particularly its fiscal and tax policies.
Nevertheless, the budget bill was expected to pass easily when it comes up for a vote next week by the 128-member legislature.
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