The Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN) and the Association of Telecommunication Workers (ASTTEL) made public a letter sent to Presidential Commissioner for Privatization, Alfredo Mena Lagos, by special advisor Mark Klugmann, about what benefits the privatization of the telecommunication sector would bring to the current Government and the ARENA party. The following is the transcript of the letter.

September 2/96
Lic. Alfredo Mena Lagos
Comisionado Presidencial

Dear Alfredo:

I would agree that the real issue is no longer what is necessary to get ANTEL privatized. That debate has basically been won. .... We should be thinking about the next stage. What really matters now is: How we use the privatization of ANTEL to help guarantee that it will be possible to accomplish the next set of reforms.

....If we make this big reform a clear political benefit, and increase our strength in the Assembly next year, then you will get the support you need to finish the whole program. Without sufficient votes in the legislature everything will be difficult next year. With the votes and the perception that modernization helped to win those vote, then everything will be possible. In either case, the political context for modernization will look very different after the elections of 1997.

To get next year's reforms accomplished we need:

What brings greater political benefit, a well-designed personal letter from the President to 200,000 families with a specific benefit tied to modernization program, or preferential share prices for 4,900 ANTEL workers ( where most of the benefit goes to a small percentage of those workers)? The point is not that we should choose between these two activities, but rather to show that in quantitative terms the benefit for the 200,000 is very cost-effective.

...ANTEL as the first privatization it is also the most important. Coming just before the elections, it is a key political event. Investing part of ANTEL to create the political infrastructure of sustainable reform is a sound policy.

The real question that faces us is: How do we use ANTEL privatization to help get support in A) the party, B) the Government) the Assembly, and D) the electorate, to continue this process until the whole vision is completed. Whatever specific measures are finally decided on, I submit that a key strategic goal for the privatization of ANTEL must be something that goes beyond this one reform; it must also help get us past the political choke-point that could slow down the modernization program in 1997. And help give us the momentum to move even faster.

With great respect,
Mark M. Klugmann

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