More political fireworks and a delay in selling off two cellular licenses looked increasingly likely this week after an official committee said the Telecommunications Ministry’s specification book for the sale had been prepared “illegally.”
The Justice Ministry’s Legislation and Consultation Committee, which examines the legality of government decisions, said Telecommunications Minister Jean-Louis Qordahi violated the law when his ministry contacted experts, and not a “specialized independent firm,” to produce the booklet.
Law 393, which allows the government to hold the auction, stipulates that an international firm be tasked with preparing the booklet.
The committee, responding to a question about the legal ramifications of the sale, said any party could file suit against the tendering or auction process because it violated the law.
Qordahi was quick to respond to the announcement, faxed to the media by Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s press office.
“We were surprised that the ‘official government spokesman,’ Hani Hammoud, has leaked a non-binding report,” said a statement by Qordahi’s office, referring to Hariri’s press adviser by name.
Qordahi said the battle over the sell-off had demonstrated that certain parties were seeking to “maintain the BOT (build-operate-transfer contracts with Cellis and LibanCell) and protect the firms’ revenues, instead of implementing Law 393.”