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Thursday, 12 December 2019

Egypt parliament to investigate MPs accused of selling pilgrimage visas

Five MPs face accusations of profiteering by selling hajj visas that were supposed to be dispersed freely

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 26 Sep 2017
Egyptian parliament
File photo: A general view of the Egyptian parliament during a working session in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)
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A private tourist company on Sunday filed a complaint with parliamentary speaker Ali Abdel-Aal, asking him to investigate five MPs on the grounds of profiteering by selling travel visas they had received from the government to give to citizens for free.

The company's complaint alleged that the MPs received the Saudi Arabian travel visas from the government “to give them to citizens free of charge, and not to profit from selling them to private tourist companies," in order that they could perform pilgrimage duties last month.

The company's director said one MP profited as much as EGP 3 million from selling 57 pilgrimage visas to the company.

"The other MPs also sold the company dozens of free visas, at a price of EGP 62,000 each," the director said, adding that "as this is a form of corruption, the company found it necessary to inform parliament's leadership of these shady practices."

The director said that the visas were granted to MPs with the stipulation that they give them free to constituents in their own districts or to professional syndicate and labour union members who can't afford the price of a visa.

"While they gave some of these visas to syndicates, they set aside others to profit from in terms of selling them to private tourist companies," said the company director.

Informed sources told Ahram Online on Tuesday that Abdel-Aal has decided to open an investigation into the accusations.

A source said that the private company's complaint against MPs is corroborated by a lot of documents indicating how much money they made from the visas and when and how they received this money.

"The accusations are serious and an investigation is expected to open next week," said the source.

The above accusations come just a few days before the new parliamentary session is scheduled to begin.

Salah Fawzi, a constitutional law professor who acts as an advisor to parliament speaker, told reporters Tuesday that parliament is expected to begin its next legislative session on 4 October.

Article 115 of Egypt's 2014 constitution states that president of the republic should invite the 596-member parliament -- the House of Representatives – to convene to open a new session before the first Sunday of the month of October every year. 

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