Egypt parliament to vote in plenary session on three laws related to nuclear activities

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 26 Nov 2017

The amendments are necessary before Egypt and Russia lay the foundation of the first nuclear power station at El-Dabaa

A general view of Egypt's parliament in Cairo, Egypt, February 16, 2017 (Reuters)

Egypt's House of Representatives will discuss and vote Monday on three draft laws aimed at regulating national nuclear activities.

Parliament deputy speaker Mahmoud El-Sherif told reporters Sunday that the laws are necessary before Egypt and Russia lay the foundation of the first nuclear power station at El-Dabaa, west of Alexandria. The revision of the contracts of the Dabaa project was already finalised by the State Council.

El-Sherif said parliament's secretariat-general has asked all MPs to attend tomorrow's plenary meeting due to the importance of the three draft laws. After discussion, they will be voted upon.

"These laws will put the legislative foundation necessary in order for the construction of the first nuclear power station at El-Dabaa to begin," said El-Sherif.

El-Sherif told reporters that although parliament's plenary meetings were scheduled to be held 3 December, the urgent meeting will be held Monday.

Informed sources said Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Russia's President Vladmir Putin are expected to attend a ceremony within two months marking the beginning of the implementation phase of Egypt's first nuclear power station at El-Dabaa.

"The discussion of and vote on the three laws in an urgent meeting means that the final signing of contracts on four nuclear power stations at El-Dabaa is very near," said El-Sherif.

El-Sherif indicated that MPs will first debate amendments to a 1976 law (Law No 13/1976) which states that an entity under the name "The Authority of Nuclear Stations for Electrical Generation" will be created.

The amendments were approved by parliament's energy and environment committee in a meeting attended by head of the authority Amgad El-Wakeel Saturday.

El-Wakeel explained that the aforementioned authority will be affiliated with the Ministry of Electricity and will be mainly tasked with proposing the construction of nuclear power stations for the purpose of electricity generation in Egypt as well as establishing desalination projects. 

"This authority will also take charge of conducting studies and research on nuclear stations in Egypt, and drafting the specifications of these stations," said El-Wakeel, adding: "The amendments will also pave the way for the authority to sign contracts with the private sector in Egypt and outside Egypt in the area of building nuclear power stations."

According to the amendments, the board of the abovementioned authority will comprise 10 members to be named by the minister of electricity and ratified by the president.

The laws will give the authority the prerogative to sign contracts with local and foreign entities, so long as such agreements do not harm national security.

The amendments also state that "all equipment, tools, cars, spare parts and materials to be imported by the authority will be exempted from any custom duties, and all companies and institutions contracted by the authority will be also granted the same exemptions."

They also stipulate the authority's loans and credit facilities borrowed from foreign sources to build nuclear power projects in Egypt are to be exempted from all taxes, and that contractors and sub-contractors employed by the authority to build its projects will be granted the same exemptions.

MPs will also discuss a new government-drafted law aimed at the creation of an "Executive Authority for the Supervision of Nuclear Stations for Electricity Generation."

"The authority, which will be affiliated with the Ministry of Electricity, and will be located in Cairo with possible branches inside or outside Egypt, will be responsible for the technical supervision of nuclear stations designed to generate electricity," the draft law said. 

"This will include supervising the performance of contractors employed to build nuclear stations in Egypt, issue progress reports on nuclear projects, and release annual reports on the authority's finances to be revised by the minister of electricity and parliament's energy and environment committee.

"The Executive Authority will also take charge of the experimental operation of nuclear projects and make sure that they are implemented on time and in coordination with other authorities involved in building nuclear power stations in Egypt.”

A third law, which is an amendment of a 2010 law (Law No 7/2010), concerns the regulation of nuclear and radioactive activities in Egypt.

The six-article law, approved by the cabinet in a meeting on 20 September, was also approved by parliament's energy and environment committee Saturday.

The law defines the tasks of the country's authority that is responsible for the supervision of nuclear and radioactive activities in Egypt and the formation of its board.

El-Sherif said MPs will stand for a minute of silence at the beginning of tomorrow's plenary session, mourning the death of 305 worshippers in a terrorist attack on Al-Rawda Mosque in North Sinai Friday.

While a large number of MPs have requested that they deliver statements during the urgent meeting on the terrorist attack, heads of some committees are expected to propose new legislative amendments aimed at fighting terrorism.

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