BEIRUT: Telecoms data will once again top the Cabinet’s 60-item agenda when it convenes Wednesday under Prime Minister Najib Mikati at the Grand Serail. The Interior Ministry has requested that the Telecommunications Ministry extend its provision of data to security bodies, backdated to the first of the year.
Previously, a judicial committee tasked with the issue asked the Telecoms Ministry to give security bodies the data up until the end of 2012. The data includes the International Mobile Subscriber Identity, which holds key information about a mobile phone, including its location, and the time and callers in a conversation.
A source in the ministry told The Daily Star that Telecoms Minister Nicolas Sehnaoui now requires Cabinet’s approval to continue delivering the data.
It is unclear whether the session after Wednesday’s will be at the Grand Serail or Baabda Palace, as last week President Michel Sleiman said he would no longer convene Cabinet at the Presidential Palace unless an item that calls for the establishment of a supervisory committee for elections tops the agenda.
The item was on last week’s agenda, but was postponed so that a Justice Ministry committee could discuss the proper method to form the body.
Sources told The Daily Star that Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil met with Sleiman last week to clarify the March 8 coalition’s opposition to the committee’s establishment. He said the position is not aimed at the president, but rather is part of the coalition’s objection to holding elections under the 1960 Law.
Khalil told the president that the formation of a supervisory body would make elections based on the 1960 Law inevitable if there is no deal on an alternative. Parliamentary elections are supposed to take place in June, but debate over a new electoral law and regional instability have called into question whether they will be held on time.
Among the other issues on Wednesday’s agenda are 14 items related to finance, the most significant being a decree that would channel LL525 million from the budget of the Telecommunications Ministry to the Education’s Ministry budget. The decree states that the Telecoms Ministry has extra funding that the Education Ministry needs to purchase equipment.
In addition, the Foreign Ministry will ask to open an embassy in the Philippines, and Cabinet will discuss a decree that would form a general secretariat for the Higher Judicial Council.