Thursday, December 1 2022

Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Johnny Corm attends an interview with Reuters at the Telecommunications Ministry in Beirut, Lebanon January 12, 2022. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

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BEIRUT, May 20 (Reuters) – Lebanon’s telecoms sector will start using the central bank’s Sayrafa exchange platform for telephone services, including mobile calls and data, Telecoms Minister Johnny Corm said on Friday. which means a sharp rise in prices.

The telecommunications sector has so far used the old pegged exchange rate of 1,500 Lebanese pounds to the dollar, but Crom said it would start using the official flexible exchange rate, which was 23,900 pounds on Friday. for a dollar.

The decision was taken during the last cabinet session before moving to interim status after the election of a new parliament on May 15.

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This would represent a steep price hike for residents of Lebanon, whose economic collapse has seen the pound lose 90% of its value and depositors have frozen their hard currency bank accounts.

In a statement to Reuters, digital rights group SMEX called on the minister to “reconsider” the plan because it would put phone and internet access out of reach for most Lebanese.

“It will increase digital classism and the divide, which means that telecommunications will only be affordable for the rich, while Lebanon is experiencing a historic economic crisis,” the statement said.

Corm said the move was necessary to keep the cash-strapped sector afloat.

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Reporting by Timour Azhari and Maya Gebeily; Written by Lina Najem; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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