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Egyptian MPs referred to disciplinary committee for publicly opposing VAT

Members of the 25-30 coalition held a press conference during the parliamentary session condemning the VAT bill

Ahram Online , Sunday 28 Aug 2016
Ali Abdel-Al, the speaker of Egypt
Ali Abdel-Al, the speaker of Egypt's parliament (Reuters)
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The speaker of Egypt's parliament Ali ‎Abdel-Al referred on Sunday several members of the leftist parliamentary bloc titled "25-30" to a disciplinary committee after they held a press conference where they expressed their rejection of the recently approved VAT law, MENA state news agency reported.

The 25-30 Group, a leftist parliamentary bloc named after the two mass protests of 25 January 2011 and 30 June 2013, held a press conference on Sunday during the parliamentary session to reject the VAT bill and protest the failure to use the electronic voting system in parliament.

The delayed VAT law is part of the government's fiscal reform programme, implemented in July 2014, through which energy subsidies are cut and new taxes are introduced to reduce the country's ballooning budget deficit – estimated at 11.5 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2015/16.

Abdel-Al said that "such actions will not be tolerated as they aim to overthrow the House", adding that there will be a confidential session before the parliamentary recess to discuss the matter.

In a press conference last week, the 25-30 MPs said an International Monetary Fund agreement with Egypt – including the VAT – will be disastrous for the majority of Egyptians and could trigger wide-scale protests on streets.

The names of members referred to the disciplinary committee have not been officially announced.

The speaker added that informal blocs like 25-30 are not officially recognised by parliament, saying that the only recognised parliamentary bloc is the Support Egypt coalition.

Article 99 of the internal bylaws stipulates that for a parliamentary coalition to be officially recognised it must include no less than 25 percent of MPs from at least 10 governorates.

The 25-30 coalition includes some prominent leftist MPs such as film director Khaled Youssef, Haitham El-Hariri, Mustafa El-Guindi, and four members affiliated with the Egyptian Social Democratic Party.

Egypt's parliament approved the VAT law on Sunday after agreeing with the cabinet on a rate of 13 percent for the 2016/17 fiscal year. The rate will rise to 14 percent the following year. 

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