Lebanon’s state-owned electricity and telecom assets may hit the auction block:
Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said that his government is serious about the privatization program which is seen as a crucial step to reduce Lebanon’s $36 billion public debt. Siniora, who headed a meeting for the Higher Privatization committee on the weekend, told reporters that selling some state assets will help alleviate Lebanon’s economic problems. Former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated on February 14, had tried to push the idea of privatization during his last four years in office. However, political bickering and Syrian intervention in Lebanon’s daily affairs dealt a severe blow to Hariri’s efforts to privatize the telecom and electricity sectors. But with the landslide victory of Hariri’s son Saad in the spring parliamentary elections, the chances for the long-stalled privatization drive seem to have improved. Siniora said that a regulatory body for both the telecom and electricity sectors will be formed “soon” to prepare for the liberalization of these sectors and then sell them to the highest bidder.