According to newspaper reports citing Lebanese government officials, a new telecommunications draft law will go before the Cabinet by mid-February. The advisor to the Telecoms Minister, Dimianos Kattar, stated that the draft law will create a new entity called Liban Telecom out of existing entities, paving the way for privatization of the sector.
Thursday’s Cabinet session chaired by President Emile Lahoud, approving the 2001-draft budget, rejected the controversial proposal of imposing 5,000 Lebanese pound ($3.3) on all fixed and mobile-line bills aimed at financing the state-run media. The proposal will be replaced by LP30 billion ($19.9 million) allocated to Tele-Liban, while around LP23 billion ($15.3 million) will be assigned to Radio Liban and the National News Agency.
In its attempt to cut expenses, the Cabinet approved a proposal to merge the three state-media entities, and to transfer surplus employees to the Civil Service Council to be appointed to other governmental departments.
In addition, the government will issue three decrees within the next couple of months on regulations for the satellite television sector, the allocation of leased lines and international call rates.
Kattar denied any plans to route all internet traffic through Syria, saying “We are not interested in a common hub.” Executive magazine had reported in its January issue that there was an agreement whereby Lebanon’s “phone, television and most importantly, internet connections will all go via Syria.” — (Banque du Liban et d'Outre-Mer Sal )
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