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Friday, 07 August 2020

Egypt's parliament to discuss four political laws and new budget

The discussion of four political laws paves the way for holding parliamentary elections at the end of the year

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 13 Jun 2020
File photo: Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)
File photo: Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)
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The Egyptian House of Representatives is scheduled to meet on Sunday to discuss two political laws that aim to regulate the formation and election of Egypt's two chambers of parliament – the House of Representatives and the Senate.

A report prepared by parliament's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee said the amendments, drafted by the parliamentary majority "Support Egypt" coalition, aim to go in line with the constitutional amendments passed in April 2019.

"These amendments stipulate that Egypt shall adopt a bicameral system including two chambers – the House of Representatives and the Senate --and so it was important that the two bills are drafted to meet this stipulation," said the report.

The amendment to the House law (Law 46/2019) states that Egypt's new parliament will comprise 568 MPs, half of them (284 MPs) to be elected via the individual candidacy system, and the other half to be elected through the closed list system.

The draft law states that 25 per cent of the seats in the new parliament shall be reserved for women.

The president will be authorised to appoint five per cent (28 MPs), bringing the total number to 596.

The new law on the formation and election of the Senate states that a 300-member Senate will be set up, with one third (100 members) to be elected via the individual candidacy system, a second third to be elected through the closed list system, and the remaining third to be named by the president.

The five-year Senate will be entrusted with discussing the budget and development plans, political laws and preparing reports on political and socio-economic developments in Egypt.

MPs are also expected on Sunday to discuss two complementary laws on the exercise of political rights (Law 45/2014) and Law 198/2017 on the performance of the National Election Committee (NEC).

The report said the amendments to these two laws are necessary to pave the way for parliamentary elections scheduled for November.

The amendments to the law on the exercise of political rights include the conditions which candidates should meet in order to be eligible for running in elections.

"A parliamentary election candidate should have performed military service, present a curriculum vitae, a financial statement on his wealth and financial resources, have a university education degree, and deposit EGP 10,000 as an insurance amount," said the amended law.

The amendment to NEC's law states that it should give a final decision on candidacy and election appeals filed within 24 hours, and that it should announce the results of the election within seven days from the voting day.

Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal indicated in a statement on 10 June that in line with Article 208 of the constitution and Article 3 of NEC's law, he decided to seek the NEC's opinion on the above amendments prior to discussing them in parliament next week.

"I sent a letter to NEC's chairman Lasheen Ibrahim, asking him to give us NEC's opinion on the reports prepared by parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee on the above four political laws ahead of discussing them next week in parliament and as stipulated by the constitution," Abdel-Aal said.

On Monday parliament is scheduled to discuss a report on the state's new budget for fiscal year 2020/21, and a report on the third year (2020/21) of the four-year development plan (2018/22).

The new budget and development plan were approved by the House's Budget Committee on 9 June.

Members of the committee, however, said the budget should be changed to earmark greater budgetary allocations to the two ministries of health and education to help them contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Hussein Eissa, head of the committee, said there is hope the minister of finance will respond positively to the demands of MPs during the final discussion of the budget next Monday.

"Members recommend that the budget allocated to the health and education sectors be increased to help fight the coronavirus, raise the salaries of doctors and medical staff, buy drugs and protective gear, and support university hospitals and scientific research," Eissa said.

Deputy Minister of Education Reda Hegazy told reporters that the ministry asked for EGP22 billion in additional allocation.

"We said we need this amount to cover the costs of fighting the coronavirus and to hold the Thanawiya Amma exams as scheduled on 14 June," Hegazy said, indicating that "we asked for EGP 133 billion in total in 2020/21 but the Ministry of Finance approved just EGP 109 billion."

MPs, said Eissa, also asked that an amount of EGP 500 million be allocated to the new Senate in order to be able to perform its legislative and supervisory duties.

The Budget Committee approved that the House of Representatives be allocated an amount of EGP 1.6 billion in 2020/21, up by EGP 55 million from last year.

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