Egypt's parliament provisionally approved on Monday a government-drafted law on regulating bidding procedures.
Following a long debate, MPs and Minister of Finance Mohamed Maeet decided to change the name of the legislation to "the Law on Regulating Public Contracts."
At the beginning of the debate in a plenary sitting on Monday morning, parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said that "the law aims to secure transparency in the area of public spending and contracts."
"As a matter of fact, the Ministry of Finance, in collaboration with parliament's budget and planning committee, did their best to ensure that the law conforms as much as possible with the UN's legislative guidelines on bidding procedures," Abdel-Aal said.
"I have high hopes that this law will solidify the pillars of transparency in government circles, fight corruption, and reinforce supervision of public funds," said Abdel-Aal.
Hussein Eissa, the head of parliament's budget and planning committee, said that "the 102-article law aims to implement Article 27 of Egypt's constitution, which stipulates that the country's economic system should be governed under the criterion of transparency, competition and high productivity."
Eissa said that the law has become a necessity, "as the more the economy is marked with transparency, the more the country becomes an investment friendly economy."
"This is what the World Bank said, and so we hope that this law will help Egypt's standing on the International Transparency index and boost the influx of foreign investments in the country," Eissa said.
Eissa also argued that the implementation of the existing law on bidding procedures – issued in 1998 – did not lead to stemming the tide of graft and abuse of public money in government circles.
"A period of 20 years also made it a necessity to issue a new law that helps achieve the principles of transparency and competition," said Eissa.
Eissa explained that the law will govern all the state's administrative units, local councils, ministries, service and economic authorities and public funds.
Minister of Finance Mohamed Maeet said the draft law regulating bidding procedures was highly welcomed in foreign circles.
"This law has received praise from World Bank officials, and so it is a progressive step towards fighting corruption, reinforcing transparency and creating a more investment friendly climate," Maeet said, explaining that "the law imposes tight control on all buying and selling operations in government circles to ensure that public money is spent in a disciplined way and free from any corruption or graft practices."
However, Maeet insisted that "in order for the law to be effective and fruitful, all government authorities will be obliged to go in line with its articles and procedures."
"This is a big challenge, but we have decided to face it because the existing law – issued 20 years ago – has no longer become viable and is by no means adequate to [fight] corruption," said Maeet.
Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal decided to refer the law back to the budget and planning committee to rewrite some of its articles – particularly Article 1.
"This article is the most important one, and I hope it will be redrafted so that we can discuss it next week and before parliament adjourns for summer recess," said Abdel-Aal, indicating that "Article 1, which explains in detail the objectives of the law, could overlap with two other laws on investment and partnership with the private sector."