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Thursday, 18 January 2018

Egypt parliament responds to Sadat's accusations, denies misuse of funds

Parliament's secretariat-general said that MP Anwar El-Sadat's accusation that it bought cars in excess of the budget are groundless

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 31 Jan 2017
Abdel Aal
File photo of Egyptian Parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal (Photo: Reuters)
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The secretariat-general of Egypt's parliament has denied accusations that speaker Ali Abdel-Aal had requested buying three heavily armoured cars worth EGP 18 million in one month in violation of the country's austerity measures.

MP Mohamed Anwar El-Sadat said earlier this week that parliament purchased the cars in excess of the budget allotted for such purchases.

In a statement released on Monday night, the secretariat said that "documents show that the cars were purchased with funds that were part of parliament's original budget from before it was elected... there was no any misuse of funds."

The statement said that the request to buy the cars was issued in December 2015, one month before Egypt's new parliament was elected.

"The request was issued by the minister of state for parliamentary affairs and transitional justice, who was responsible at the time for running the affairs of parliament in accordance with the law," said the statement.

According to the statement, "Article 51 of the House of Representatives Law states that if parliament is dissolved, the prime minister or one of his deputies would take charge of running the financial and administrative affairs of the House."

It added that "as a result and while preparations were underway for electing a new parliament, the minister of parliamentary affairs... had requested that a fleet of 25 cars, including a heavily armoured one - be bought to be used by parliament's new speaker, his two deputies and senior staff."

The statement said that upon the request of the minister of parliamentary affairs, the ministry of planning had approved in December 2015 that parliament's budget be allocated an additional EGP 10 million.

"While as much as EGP 4 million out of this amount was earmarked to buy the 25 cars, the remaining EGP 6 million was allocated to buy a heavily armoured car to serve the transportation needs of the speaker of the new parliament," said the statement.

The statement said that only 17 cars were bought from the planned 25, which were intended to replace 25 old ones that were no longer viable for use.

"The 17 new cars included two Mercedes to serve the speaker's two deputies," the statement said.

The statement revealed that it was the Ministry of Defence which was charged with buying the speaker's new armoured car.

"[The car] was bought for 393,000 euros, which is half the cost of buying this car today," said the statement.

The statement added that "after parliament was dissolved in 2012, the speaker's heavily armoured car was sent to the cabinet to be used by the prime minister."

"For this reason, the Ministry of Planning approved in December 2012 that the new parliament's speaker should be allocated a heavily armoured car to replace the one that was given to the prime minister," the statement added.

The statement said that it is no longer a luxury for parliament's speaker and high-profile figures to be allocated with cars fitted with the most up-to-date security equipment.

"These types of cars have become a high security necessity as terrorist are now targeting senior officials by use of highly explosive bombs – as in the case of the bombing and killing of Egypt's prosecutor-general in 29 June 2015," said the statement.

The statement disclosed that in February 2016 and because of the rising threat of terrorist groups, it was decided that the two Mercedes cars allocated to the speaker's two deputies should be replaced by two heavily armoured cars.

"As a result, the Ministry of Planning approved that an additional amount of EGP 16 million be earmarked to parliament's budget so that the Ministry of Defence can buy these two cars," said the statement, adding that "the ministry of defence has not yet bought the two cars."

The statement concluded that all the purchase papers and documents related to parliament's new cars will be presented to the budget committee, which is in charge of overseeing parliament's budget.

It stressed that while parliament is committed to observing the state's current austerity measures, it is also keen that the speaker and his two deputies receive the highest level of security.

The statement decried MP El-Sadat's opting to disseminate his accusations on TV channels and websites without contacting parliament's secretariat-general first.

"He should have contacted parliament's secretariat-general first and it was ready to give all the facts and documents necessary about this case," said the statement.

Anwar El-Sadat, nephew of late president Anwar El-Sadat and head of the liberal Reform and Development Party, is expected to be investigated by the ethics committee next week. Sadat faces accusations that he had leaked original document of the government-drafted NGOs law to a number of foreign embassies in Cairo without getting parliament's prior approval.

Sadat was dismissed as head of parliament's human rights committee last September after some MPs had accused him of using his position to serve a Western liberal agenda.

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