Lebanon’s two state-owned mobile network operators Touch and Alfa have issued a joint statement arguing for an urgent increase in mobile service tariffs to be implemented via government decree. The cellcos stated that ‘the adoption of the decree to amend the prices of mobile telecommunications has become an urgent and imperative need to ensure the continuity of the sector, otherwise the future of the two companies and the sector in general will be in danger, which will also be reflected in the future of all public and private sectors, including hospitalisation and banks, factories, hotels and various companies, as they depend in their operating systems on the telecommunications sector.’
According to the two companies’ combined figures, their annual income in dollar terms ‘declined from USD1.4 billion in 2018 to only USD75 million currently, as per the black market exchange rate’ due to the economic crisis afflicting Lebanon since 2019. Touch and Alfa point out that although they collectively reduced annual expenses from USD560 million in 2018 to approximately USD255 million, this figure in addition to USD40 million annual suppliers’ dues i.e. totalling USD295 million, represents roughly four times their current yearly income, hence the requirement to adopt an amendment decree to alter mobile tariffs ‘as soon as possible, to curb this decline in revenues and be able to maintain the viability of the mobile telecommunications sector’.