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TELECOMS MINISTER SAYS SECTOR’S SOLE SALVATION EITHER TARIFF HIKE OR SUBSIDIES

ALKREM

 Minister of Telecommunications, Johnny Corm, on Monday made it clear that within the framework of the new state budget, the Telecoms Ministry’s budget would be based on “two figures” instead of one.  

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He explained that the first figure took into consideration the possibility of continuing to charge consumers the same current tariff, which is based on the official rate of LBP 1500 per USD, whilst the second figure sought an increase in the tariff rate from LBP 1500 per USD to LBP 9000 per USD. 

However, interviewed by Al-Hurra news channel’s show the “Lebanese Scene”, Corm warned that the first figure, which is based on the current LBP 1500 per USD rate, meant recording a massive annual loss of approximately LBP 350 billion.

“The break even figure for the ministry of telecoms at the present time is within the range of LBP 9000,” he added. 

Regarding the possibility of exempting some sectors or segments of the Lebanese society from a likely increase in telecoms tariffs, Corm said that exceptions might include workers in the military, security institutions, and students. 

“Alfa mobile operator can continue its services until April-May 2022 if we don’t immediately raise the tarrif rates. As for Touch mobile operator, it’s services will last for a month before that [till March 2022]; its services will keep deteriorating and eventually be suspended,” Corm explained. 

“The sole solution is to either raise the tariff, or to have the state support the  sector via subsidies, yet the second strategy has proven to be a a big failure in the long run,” the Minister warned. 

Regarding the operating expenses of the telecommunications sector, Corm explained that the soaring cost of fuel and gas constituted 64% of the operating expenses. Salaries constituted 10%, and the value of rented buildings constituted 3%. 

Corm then affirmed that the issue of illegal internet would begin to be addressed within two weeks, explaining the state has been incurring huge losses amounting to approximately LBP 600 billion a year caused by 650 to 700 thousand illegal subscribers.

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