Republic of Lebanon

Ministerial talks mull privatizing telecoms, electricity

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  • Ministerial talks mull privatizing telecoms, electricity

    The Daily Star

    The Higher Council for Privatization Wednesday revived plans to create state-owned operator “Liban Telecom” and discussed plans to privatize Lebanon’s ailing electricity sector.

    During a meeting at the Grand Serail headed by Prime Minister Tammam Salam, HCP reactivated Law 431 of 2002, which stipulates the establishment of Liban Telecom, through merging the operations of Ogero (a Government-owned contractor) and two directorates of the Ministry of Telecommunications.

    According to Law 431, Liban Telecom would be an integrated telecom operator providing services which include fixed and mobile telephony, local and international communication, voice and data access, pay phones, emergency call services, dial-up and printed directory information services.

    Telecommunications Minister Butros Harb who put forth the proposal to revive Law 431 argued that the establishment of Liban Telecom was “essential for developing Lebanon’s telecoms sector.”

    In addition to Salam, Harb and HCP head Ziad Hayek, the meeting was attended by Energy and Water Resources Minister Arthur Nazarian, Finance Minister Ali Hasan Khalil, Justice Minister Ashraf Rifi, Economy Minister Alain Hakim, Council for Development and Reconstruction head Nabil al-Jisr and Electricite du Liban Director General Kamal al-Hayek.

    The attendees tasked HCP’s secretariat to carry out the necessary legal, financial and structural studies for the creation of Liban Telecom.

    “The creation of Liban Telecom will not only influence the telecommunications sector; it will have an impact on the financial market and Lebanon’s economy as a whole because it will activate Beirut’s stock exchange,” HCP’s Ziad Hayek said.

    Liban Telecom will be a joint-stock company (S.A.L) and is expected to be privatized soon after its creation, as stipulated by Law 431.

    “The partnership between the private and public sector is currently the best way to create job opportunities and to encourage investment in the infrastructure sector and several others sectors,” Hayek said.

    The partnership between Lebanon’s private and public sectors and the guidelines governing the relationship between the two domains was also discussed during the Wednesday meeting, upon the request of the economy minister. Hakim is expected to set forth the guidelines for discussion during the next Cabinet session.

    HCP’s meeting came one day after the visit of World Bank chief Jim Yong Kim, and the reports about the organizations’ recommendation o privatize the main services sectors in Lebanon.

    HCP’s next meeting will thoroughly examine the privatization of Lebanon’s weakened electricity sector.

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