Yesterday, trouble occurred
when the house finance committee voted for their chair. As a result, seven of the eleven members resigned. Now, I don't completely understand how four members outvoted the other seven. But I am interested in the story behind the story.
The seven members were unhappy that Abdallah Akaileh, an independent Islamist, was elected as chair, beating out Hashim Dabbas, who was chair last year. What is the big deal?
I wrote earlier
that the parliament has a chance to reverse the controversial income tax law if it revises the budget according to the old law. The most serious discussions on this issue will be in the finance committee. So, the fate of the controversial law will largely be in this committee. A couple of days ago Hashim Dabbas himself complained
that the finance committee gives unbinding recommendations that are mostly ignored by the government. So why is he upset that he is not chair? Because the committee is more important
than he wants to admit.
In essence, the committee can either let things go the government's way, which would mean that the parliament will have to backtrack on it's rejection of the temporary laws
passed by Adnan Badran's government, or it could follow through with it's rejection of the laws, which are flawed both in form and in substance.
Dabbas is a member of the National Action Front headed by Abdulhadi Majjali, the speaker of the house. Suleiman Abu Ghaith gave the front's speech
in the confidence discussions. In it, he basically said that front is in full support of the government's efforts to raise revenue and to ensuring "financial stability". So, basically Dabbas wants the job so that he can do the government's bidding, and to make sure the budget passes the way the government wants it.
What do the Islamists want? The IAF speech
was given by Mohammad Aqel. As might be expected, they were more interested in applying Sharia
than in discussing any specifics which people might hold them to. So he gave populist grievances equal footing with the need to remove barriers to investments (the justification the government gives for the new tax law). The IAF made sure that one of their independent allies won the spot rather than an official IAF member. So, they can push for a populist revision of the government's economic policies, and at the same time not anger the government by having one of their own do the job.
Khalil Atieh also ran for the chairmanship of the committee despite the fact that he didn't mention the economy at all in his speech
. The fact that he ran gave Akaileh the opportunity to take the chairmanship, and the fact that he resigned the committee is very funny. He ran to make Dabbas lose, and then resigned because Akaileh won.
The parliament is in a bind. They don't want to anger the government, and at the same time they don't want the finance committee to embarrass them with recommendations that they might have to reject, which would make them look bad in front of their constituents. Thus, committee members from the major factions in the parliament are upset and have resigned. Akaileh might force the issue in a way that the MP's don't want to go, and embarrass them into doing the right thing.