Lebanon News

MP Youssef accuses Telecom Minister of withholding $500m from government

An archived picture of Future Movement MP Ghazi Youssef

BEIRUT- Future Movement MP Ghazi Youssef has accused the Telecommunications Minister Charbel Nahhas Monday of withholding up to $500 million in revenues from the Government.

Youssef said in a press conference that Ogero Telecommunications, a government owned entity, is struggling financially and Nahhas is not taking the necessary steps to avert the situation. He called on Nahhas to work closely with the Parliament and Ministry of Finance to overcome the company’s problems.

He said Nahhas’s non-compliance was due to a rejection from the Parliament to his previous request to takeover Ogero Telecommunications.

He warned that the telecommunication industry in Lebanon is heading towards a “meltdown” if Nahhas does not work closely with the government.

Youssef also criticized Nahhas for upgrading Lebanon’s languishing telecoms network to third-generation technologies (3G) without consulting the Organizing Committee of Telecommunications or the Parliament, a move that violates the telecommunications law in Lebanon.

“He [Nahhas] has sacked many longstanding employees because they had opposing political views,” Youssef alleged.

He said Nahhas broke the law by asking MTC Touch and Alpha to provide him the call logs of Ogero’s Director General Abdel-Menhem Youssef, who is also the head of the Administration of Maintenance and Investment. “This is a violation of the law,” he said, adding: “The aim from violating the law is to spend more than $200 Million of public money on new contracts without any supervision.”

Nahhas declined to comment when contacted by the Daily Star online.

In January, Nahhas told The Daily Star that telecom revenues neared $2 billion in 2010 adding that the ministry had diverted around $900 million to municipalities and $600 million to the treasury while $500 million would be used to cover operating costs.

Caretaker Finance Minister Rayya Hassan had previously also accused Nahhas of withholding funds from the treasury. She claimed Nahhas was obstructing the government’s budgetary process. 

Nahhas denied the allegations, as previously reported.

 

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