‘Sectarian Balance’ Delays Employment of 3,000 Lebanese

‘Sectarian Balance’ Delays Employment of 3,000 Lebanese

Friday, 19 October, 2018 - 07:30
A general view shows a street hosting banks and financial institutions, known as Banks street, in Beirut Central District, Lebanon June 2, 2017. Reuters
Beirut - Caroline Akoum
For the past four years, some 3,000 young Lebanese applicants from different communities have been waiting for the results of exams to be recruited at the Customs Directorate.
 
Dozens of applicants to the Customs Bureau protested over their years-long wait in a demonstration held in downtown Beirut two days ago.
 
This is only an example of several exams for jobs at state institutions, which are offered to young people, who remain without official appointment, for reasons linked to sectarian quotas and claims that the sectarian balance is not guaranteed.
 
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on condition of anonymity, an applicant, who had joined the sit-in, said: “Each side seeks to blame the other, including the general directorate of customs, the ministry of finance and others, and tells us that the main reason for not announcing the 2014 results is the success of 170 Christian applicants only, while there are 853 vacant posts.”
 
He continued: “Therefore, some officials refuse to recognize this number on the pretext of sectarian imbalance, and stress the need for an equal share between Muslims and Christians, which may lead to the appointment of unsuccessful candidates to meet the quotas.”
 
In parallel, officials are increasingly seeking to sign contracts away from any criteria, leading to more than 5,000 contract workers in state institutions in the past year.
 
These figures have prompted parliament’s finance and budget committee to ask the Central Inspection Department for a list of all new posts in the ministries and state departments, in order to hold the ministers responsible for this matter.
 
Mohammed Shamseddine, a researcher at Information International, told Asharq Al-Awsat that the claim of sectarian balance and quotas prevented the signing of decrees pertaining to certain jobs. He stressed that such policy contradicted the Constitution, which stipulates that only top posts in the state shall be divided equally between the sects, while other jobs are supposed to be filled according to the criterion of efficiency.
 
“Within one year, 5,000 people were employed for political, sectarian and electoral considerations. They receive salaries for unnecessary posts, raising the cost of public sector salaries to 65 percent of the state’s revenues,” Shamseddine noted.

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