File photo: Egypt's Senate. Photo credit to Khaled Mashaal
Following six months of plenary meetings, the Senate — Egypt’s consultative upper house — announced on Tuesday that it would adjourn for summer recess.
Senate Speaker Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razeq said “today — Tuesday — will be the end of the Senate’s first legislative season before summer recess, and so let’s say goodbye to a very delicate period during which we passed through the very hard circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic.”
Abdel-Razeq added that “the Senate was keen over the last period to boost democracy in Egypt, taking into account the goals of the country’s constitutional developments and the hopes and aspirations of citizens.”
He indicated that during its first legislative season, the Senate was involved in discussing a new package of social and economic laws. “We were keen to discuss these laws in depth so that they come to reflect the new social and economic realities in Egypt and reinforce the pillars of democracy and freedoms,” said Abdel-Razeq.
Abdel-Razeq noted that there was close cooperation between the Senate on one side and the government of Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and the House of Representatives on the other. “Cabinet ministers were keen to come to the Senate and its committees to explain policies and answer questions,” said Abdel-Razeq.
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad said the Senate did a great job during its first legislative season. “The Senate’s contribution to political and parliamentary life was very positive and reflected the will of the people,” said Fouad.
The end of the Senate’s first legislative season came after it gave a final approval of the new General Unified Finance Law. Abdel-Razeq said the law will be referred to the House of Representatives for study and final voting.
The law, which was provisionally approved by the Senate on Sunday, aims to upgrade the system of the state’s annual budget.
Hany Sari El-Din — the chair of the Senate’s Financial, Economic, and Investment Affairs — said the key objectives of the government-drafted General Unified Finance Law is to merge two pieces of legislation regulating the annual state budget and government accounting into a single bill.
“These two pieces of legislation were passed a long time ago and so have become unable to keep pace with the latest changes in the area of drafting state budgets and using digital and mechanised systems in this respect,” said Sari El-Din.
Senator Ihab Zakaria said the new bill is part of the government’s economic and structural reforms that go in line with modern international methods in the area of budgeting and accounting.
A report prepared by the Senate’s Financial, Economic, and Investment Affairs Committee said the government-drafted General Unified Finance Law aims to improve Egypt’s financial performance.
“However, the government believes that this will never be possible without merging two laws which regulate Egypt’s financial performance — the state’s Public Budget Law 53/1973 and Government Accounting Law 127/1981,” said the report, adding that “the step to unify the two laws comes upon the recommendation of international financial institutions and in light of the worldwide shift to digital and mechanised budgetary and accounting systems.”
Article one of the new General Unified Finance Law states that all state institutions covered by the annual state budget will be subject to the law. These institutions include the state’s administrative units, local administration units, general and service organisations, private funds and accounts, economic organisations, and projects funded by private accounts.