Bahrain is to end its state telecommunications monopoly, Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa announced Sunday, but gave no timeframe.
"The government is ending that monopoly," held by Batelco, he told a press conference. "I personally am supervising this work and following it closely," with the Telecommunications Ministry, "to reach an agreement to satisfy the Bahraini customer."
The prince, who presides over the Gulf archipelago's new Economic Development Board — a one-stop shop for investors — described the break up of the monopoly as part of moves to attract more foreign investment. "We are against monopolies," he said.
Bahrain, with a population estimated at 650,000, is preparing for a return to democracy, which it is hoped will provide a better investment climate.
Manama was looking to attract $250 million a year in foreign investment as a result of the reforms, which go to a referendum on February 14-15, the prince said.
Batelco profits in the first six months of 2000 soared 25 percent to 27.7 million dinars ($72.6 million) from the same period in 1999.
The government has a 39 percent stake in Batelco, with Britain's Cable and Wireless holding 20 percent and the remaining 41 percent publicly traded. — (AFP, Manama)
© Agence France Presse 2001
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com )