12/12/2019, 14.02
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Lebanon businesses threaten tax strike

Hundreds of businesses are ready to give money to workers to "maintain their livelihood". Unemployment and wage cuts are rising. The Paris international support group calls for an "effective and credible" government. In Beirut Amal supporters and police clash.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Hundreds of private businesses have announced a collective tax strike, stressing that they will give the money saved to workers “to maintain their livelihood.”

This follows a serious political and economic crisis that has resulted in hundreds of layoffs and workers not getting paid.

Lebanese business owners gathered yesterday in central Beirut to protest the delay in forming a new government, threatening a collective tax strike.

Most private businesses have been unable to pay taxes and yet are still facing penalties. Hundreds of people have lost their jobs or have had their salaries cut. Many companies have had to shut down.

For protest organisers, "Workers deserve the money" more than the state. Ordinary workers “bear the consequences of the state’s waste and corruption that caused their companies to close down after the public deficit drained the banks”.

Meanwhile, in Paris the international support group for Lebanon yesterday held its first meeting since Lebanon’s political and institutional crisis broke out on 17 October.

Participants sent a clear message that Lebanon has not been left to fend for itself, but also stressed that the country must have an "effective and credible" government as soon as possible, able to promote necessary reforms if it wants to continue to receive the support of the world community.

At the meeting held at the French Foreign Ministry building, participants agreed that a new government was needed to guarantee Lebanon’s stability, unity, political independence and territorial integrity as well as meet “the aspirations” of the Lebanese people and start “economic reforms” to defuse domestic and regional tensions and crises.

France and the United Nations co-chaired the meeting in the presence of delegates from China, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as representatives of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

An anonymous diplomatic source told Lebanon’s French-language newspaper L'Orient-Le Jour that Washington, London and Brussels are united in the view that "any form of aid will be conditional and not a blank check.”

Meanwhile, in Lebanon itself security forces and the pro-Iranian Shia Amal movement clashed again as they have done for weeks., including in Khandak al-Ghamik, central Beirut, where people burnt tires and threw stones at police.

The latter responded with water cannons and tear gas and prevented pro-government Amal supporters from reaching Riad el-Solh Square, where anti-government protesters were assembled.

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