The Bolivian government has moved closer to nationalizing Entel, the country's largest telecommunications company.

On Monday, President Evo Morales' government ordered the transfer of 47 percent of Entel's stock from two private pension funds to state control.

Authorities also were negotiating for the sale of the 50 percent stake held by an Italian company Telecom Italia.

President Morales has set May first as the deadline for the nationalization of Entel.

Separately, the Bolivian Congress last week approved contracts as part of a plan by Mr. Morales to nationalize the country's oil and gas industry.

Lawmakers set aside past differences and unanimously approved all 44 deals negotiated last year with several foreign energy companies.

Mr. Morales pledged during his campaign in late 2005 to give greater political and economic power to the country's poor. He is Bolivia's first indigenous president.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.