A quick rollout of mobile telephone services in Iraq looks increasingly unlikely as the Pentagon probes alleged corruption in the awarding of licences, the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reported. \nIraq's ministry of communications had stressed the systems must be operational within two months when contracts were signed with three consortiums on Oct. 6. \nEgypt's Orascom Telecom Holding, Kuwait's National Mobile Telecommunications (AsiaCell) and Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Company (AtheerTel) were even put into a race where the first to establish a system in its designated area would then be able to start competing in the other two regions. \nHowever, predictions that Iraq would have a mobile network in place by the end of the year "are looking increasingly unlikely, because the signing of the contracts has been delayed by a Pentagon investigation into allegations of corruption in the license awards," the newsletter says. \nThe Financial Times reported last week that two Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) officials and interim Telecommunications Minister Haidar al-Abbadi, were under investigations over allegations of bribery regarding the Orascom contract. \nOrascom and partners deny paying any bribes as does Abbadi. \nThe industry newsletter quoted one of the unsuccessful bidders as saying: "There are just too many accusations flying around about special interest groups and individuals with certain connections. They will have to investigate the whole procedure even if it is just to show there is no impropriety. \nMEES says: "The current inquiry, which is in a preliminary stage, is apparently being conducted by the Pentagon Inspector General's Office following claims that the contracts were awarded on the basis of political connections rather than on technical merit." \n"As soon as the awards were made they sparked controversy with many alleging that the procedure was not sufficiently transparent and favored special interest groups particularly from within the current ruling circles in Iraq," adds the Cyprus-based newsletter. \nOrascom has been chosen for the central region which includes Baghdad, AsiaCell for the north, and AtheerTel for the south. \nLast week, Kuwait's Mobile Telecommunications Co said its southern network has been delayed for security reasons, but insisted the project will go ahead. \nUntil the new systems are up and running, Iraq remains the only country in the Middle East and North Africa not to have a mobile network.
Alphabet Inc’s Google on Tuesday announced plans to buy a New York office building for US$2.1 billion, confirming its push into the US’ largest city despite the COVID-19 teleworking trend. This is the largest real-estate purchase in the US for an office building since the beginning of the global spread of COVID-19, the Wall Street Journal quoted Real Capital Analytics as saying. Google already rents the premises in Manhattan, which are located on the site of a former railroad terminal in the Hudson Square neighborhood. The Silicon Valley giant envisions a campus with a total surface area of 160,000m2 by mid-2023
‘CORE VALUES’: The contract chipmaker did not specify why the employees were dismissed, but media reports said they had leaked information about customer orders Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) has fired seven of its employees for violating the company’s “core values,” the world’s largest contract chipmaker said yesterday. While the company did not disclose exactly why it fired the seven employees, local media reports earlier in the day said that the employees had leaked confidential information about customer orders. In a statement, the company said that it fired the seven at once, adding that it released an internal notice last week to inform the entire company of the move ahead of the four-day Mid-Autumn Festival holilday, which ended on Tuesday. TSMC said it fired the seven
MILD ADJUSTMENT: Two previous efforts failed to curtail mortgage financing, although the new measures should not affect property prices, the central bank governor said The central bank yesterday tightened credit controls for second-home mortgages in specific areas and purchases of plots of land, especially in industrial parks. However, the nation’s top monetary policymaker kept its policy rate at a record-low 1.125 percent for the sixth consecutive quarter, despite revising up its GDP growth forecast for this year from 5.08 percent to 5.75 percent. “Board members factored in economic uncertainty at home and around the world,” central bank Governor Yang Chin-long (楊金龍) said, adding that growing inflationary pressure was a temporary phenomenon induced by bad weather and a low base effect for oil prices. International fuel price increases
DOWNCYCLE: Most buyers are wary about placing new orders, and although the decline could also be as little as 3%, it would be the first drop since the start of the year The average selling price of DRAM chips next quarter is expected to decline by up to 8 percent quarter-on-quarter, with memory chips used in notebook computers and consumer electronics seeing the steepest decline due to excess inventory and a shortage of components, market researcher TrendForce Corp (集邦科技) said yesterday. That means the DRAM industry is entering a new downcycle after experiencing a boom for three quarters, the longest uptrend in the history of the industry. The Taipei-based researcher said it expects the balance between supply and demand to begin tilting toward a surplus in the final quarter of this year. Most DRAM