Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Fahd Ibn Abdul Aziz today presided over the regular weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers, during which the cabinet approved the establishment of the Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC) which will run the telegram and telephone sectors on a commercial basis. Information Minister Dr. Fouad Al-Farsi reports that the new company, emerging as a replacement to the government-run telegram and telephone sectors within a long-term privatization strategy, will assume its business within six months from the date of the issuance of the royal decree for its establishment, adding that the net revenue of the government from these sectors during the fiscal year 1998 (1418-1419 H) has been estimated at SR 4 billion (U.S. $ 1.07 billion).
Addressing the meeting, King Fahd expressed thanks to God for making it easy for the pilgrims to His House to perform the rites this year, and for enabling the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to provide the best of services for them. He went on to praise the services rendered to the pilgrims by all authorities concerned with Hajj affairs. In this regard, the cabinet was briefed by Interior Minister Prince Nayef Ibn Abdul Aziz in his capacity as chairman of the higher Hajj committee. Prince Nayef referred to the great projects and facilities that have been put at the disposal of the pilgrims, such as the newly-introduced fire-proof tents at Mina and the prohibition of the use of gas for cooking at the holy sites of Mina, Arafat and Muzdalifa.
King Fahd expressed profound sorrow at the death of a number of pilgrims due to congested conditions and stampeding during the stone-throwing ritual at Mina. In this concern, King Fahd urged sister Muslim countries to cooperate more fully in explaining to pilgrims the regulations of the pilgrimage set up by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for their benefit.
King Fahd then briefed the meeting on the outcome of his talks this week with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, praising the flourishing of the firm relations between the two friendly countries. He told the cabinet that he had discussed with Blair and his accompanying delegation the most important developments in the region, particularly the Middle East Peace Process and the obstacles being put by Israel that prevent any advancement or progress on any peaceful track.
Reviewing major developments in Arab, Islamic and international arenas, King Fahd reiterated the Kingdom's position supporting the legitimate rights of all people, and particularly Arabs and Muslims.
Turning to domestic matters, the cabinet made public a number of the regulations regarding the establishment of the Saudi Telecommunication Company (STC), including that effective January 1, 1999, the Saudi government will earn from the newly-established company 27 percent of net revenues from the provision of communication services on a commercial basis. The regulations also state that the personnel of the telegram and telephone sectors, now Ministry employees, will, with the exception of a few needed by the Ministry, be transferred to the new company with their current privileges and appropriations. Within one year of the issuance of the royal decree for the establishment of STC, the Ministry of Finance and National Economy will, in collaboration with the PTT and the authorities concerned, prepare the executive program regarding the transferal of personnel from the PTT to STC and to settle all disputes.
The cabinet then endorsed the formation of the Board of Directors of STC as follows:
1- The Minister of Posts, Telegraphs and Telephones, Chairman
2- Dr. Khalid Ibn Hamza Nahas, member
3- Abdulaziz Ibn Mohammed Al-Huqail, member
4- Dr. Abdullah Ibn Hassan Abdulgader, member
5- Abdullah Ibn Yahya Al-Maalami, member
6- Dr. Fahd Ibn Abdullah Al-Mubarak, member
7- Dr. Mohammed Ibn Suleiman Al-Jasser, member
8- A representative of the Ministry of Finance and National Economy, member
9- A representative of the Public Investments Fund, member
The five-year term of office of the board will commence from the date of the establishment of the company.
The cabinet then amended paragraph (a) of article 3 of the Kingdom's Flag Act to read as follows: "The national flag shall be hoisted on all government and public buildings inside the Kingdom from sunrise to sunset on weekly recess days and Eids (national religious festivals)."