MONTREAL (Apr. 20)
A $1.1 billion contract for Bell Telephone International of Canada to modernize telephone service in Saudi Arabia could be lost if secret clauses containing provisions required by the Arab boycott are revealed, representatives of Bell told the Canadian Radio, Television and Telephone Communication Commission (CRTC).
Bell is seeking permission from the CRTC, a regulatory agency, to raise its rates. But the National Anti-Poverty Coalition has demanded that Bell not undertake risky operations overseas but use its enormous profits for investments in Canada.
When the CRTC asked Bell to disclose its secret clauses in the Saudi contracts, the telephone company refused, saying the publicity might cause it to lose the deal. The Canadian government has provided Bell with a $430 million insurance guarantee against any losses in the operation.
Under the contract, Bell will provide the Saudis with 500 technicians and Philips of The Netherlands and Erickson of Sweden will provide the equipment. Bell has stated in each contract that it has no dealings with Israel and no investment, subsidiaries or franchises in that country. Such a statement is not illegal under Canadian law as it is in the United States.
The Canada-Israel Committee, which is monitoring the CRTC hearing, is urging Canada to strengthen its anti-boycott law in line with one adopted by the United States last year.