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Egyptian parliament set to finalise bylaws, including MPs' salaries

The Egyptian parliament will finish debating its new bylaws this week, including a new article that puts the salary of MPs at EGP 15,000 per month

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 5 Mar 2016
Egyptian parliament (Reuters)
Egyptian parliament (Reuters)
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This week Egypt's parliament will hold final debates on the new set of parliamentary bylaws that will regulate the conduct of its MPs over the next five years, including articles that specify MPs' salaries.

The House of Representatives has so far approved 300 bylaw articles, with the remaining 140 to be discussed on Sunday and Monday.

The secretary-general of the Wafd Party, Bahaa El-Din Abu Shukka, who is chairman of the 25-member committee that took charge of the drafting the regulations, told reporters on Saturday that the coming 140 articles are highly important because they deal with controversial issues such as the procedures necessary to strip an MP of his parliamentary immunity or membership.

"We will also hold debates on sensitive issues such as how chairmen of state watchdog institutions should be selected and what their roles are," said Abu Shukka, adding that "a complete chapter, including articles 347 to 351, aims to regulate the house's relationship with the Central Auditing Agency, the country's main watchdog institution."

Abu Shukka said while the constitution grants the president the prerogative to appoint heads of such institutions, it gives parliament the right of reviewing the appointees and the power to veto them.

Two months ago, the House launched a scathing attack against the Central Auditing Agency's chairman Hesham Geneina, accusing him of inflating figures about corruption in Egypt in a report issued last December.

Upon the request of hundreds of MPs, an ad hoc parliamentary committee was formed to overhaul Genina's report, which claimed that corruption in the public sector had led to the loss of EGP 600 million in state revenues between 2012 and 2015.

Many MPs, who accuse Genina of being a Muslim Brotherhood sympathiser who is trying to tarnish the image of President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, insisted that Geneina should be dismissed from his position and referred to trial.

Article 347 of the draft bylaws make it obligatory for the head of the Central Auditing Agency to submit annual reports about corruption in Egypt.

Other important articles will also fix the monthly salary of MPs at EGP 15,000 (around $1,900). Their salaries will be tax free, and MPs are also guaranteed an annual increase of seven percent.

"These figures, according to Articles 430, 431, 432, and 433, do not include additional benefits and allowances to cover costs such as transport and medical treatment," said Abu Shukka.

"These articles are not part of the existing bylaws and they were drafted for the first time for the purpose of transparency," he said.

"In the past, people were kept in the dark about how much MPs earn, but this must change."

Abu Shukka also indicated that "an MP's total income from parliament cannot exceed in any way the maximum salary limit imposed on all state officials – that is EGP 42,000 (around $5,360) per month."

"This maximum, put in place by a law in 2015, applies to the president of the republic, the prime minister, the chairman of the Supreme Constitutional Court, cabinet ministers and MPs," said Abu Shukka.

Egypt's parliament is composed of 596 MPs, although this total has been temporarily reduced in recent weeks with two parliamentarians leaving the chamber; Tawfiq Okasha was voted out after a controversial meeting with the Israeli ambasador to Egypt, while judicial figure Sirri Siam resigned.

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