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Monday, 06 April 2020

Egypt parliament approves amendments to six laws on security and economic activities

Five of the laws were approved in principle in the last few days, but a final vote was postponed pending revision by the State Council

Gamal Essam El-Din , Monday 24 Feb 2020
A file photo of Egypt
A file photo of Egypt's Parliament (Photo: Reuters)
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Egypt's parliament finally voted on Monday in favour of amendments to six laws covering security and economic activities, including amendments to the law on terrorist entities (8/2018) and the law on anti-terrorism (94/2015).

These two laws were approved in principle on 9 and 10 February, but a final vote was postponed until they are revised in legal and constitutional terms by the State Council.

The amendments to the abovementioned two laws toughen penalties against terrorists and target their sources of funding.

The terrorist entities law's amended Article 1 now states that "associations, organisations, groups, and institutions that are established by individuals, companies, institutions, gangs and cells or others regardless of their legal or actual form will be designated as terrorist as long as they are involved in any way – in Egypt or abroad – in harming citizens, spreading terrorism, and endangering lives, freedoms, rights and security."

As for the amendment to the anti-terrorism law, it aims to clamp down on sources of funding for terrorist crimes and toughening penalties to include the death penalty.

Article 3 of the law is amended to widen the scope of the definition of sources of funding for terrorist acts. It now states that "the crime of funding terrorism shall take any of the following forms: collecting, obtaining, acquiring, supplying, transferring, and providing money or weapons, ammunition, explosives, equipment, statements, information, or material or others – directly or indirectly – and using any means, including digital or electronic forms, to be used in carrying out terrorist crimes or in providing a safe haven for one terrorist or more."

Also on Monday, parliament finally approved the amendments to four economic laws.

Topping the list is the amendment to the new 30-article consumer finance law, which regulates consumer finance companies and outlines the process of their being established outside the banking sector.

Second on the list are the amendments to the tax dispute settlement law (79/2016). Minister of Finance Mohamed Maeet said the law aims to facilitate the settlement of tax disputes and fines estimated at EGP 19.5 billion.

Parliament also finally approved on Monday new amendments to the new personal data protection law.

The law was approved in principle on 3 November 2019, but a final vote was postponed until the Ministry of Telecommunications and the Central Bank of Egypt reach an agreement on Article 2, which now states that personal data collected by the Central Bank of Egypt will be excluded from the effect of this law which generally outlines the rules for how businesses use personal data and information collected online.

On Monday, parliament also approved – in principle – new amendments to the value added tax law (67/2016).

The new amendment aims to bring "electronic cigarettes" under the VAT law.

An explanatory note said the state's 2019/20 budget aims to boost revenues from taxes on smoking material by EGP 8.9 million.

"This is could be difficult as many smokers have turned to electronic cigarettes, so it was decided that the VAT law be amended to include this new kind of non-traditional smoking, and that tax brackets on cigarette products in the local market also be increased to go in line with international standards in this respect."

The first bracket will increase prices of cigarette products by 50 piastres, the second bracket by one pound, the third bracket by 50 piastres. An EGP 2 VAT tax will be levied on electronic cigarettes.

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