An archival for Egypt's parliament (Photo: Al Ahram)
Following six and a half months of plenary meetings, the House of Representatives – Egypt's lower parliament – announced on Tuesday that it would adjourn for summer recess.
The House Speaker Hanafi Gibali said that today – Tuesday – will be the end of the House's first legislative season which began on 12 January.
"This season was completed during a very delicate period, during which we passed through the very hard circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic," said Gibali, adding that "MPs were up to their responsibilities and were keen to spare no effort in discussing the country's political, economic, and social problems in a very serious way."
Gibali also indicated that during the first legislative season, he was keen to give the floor to MPs from both the majority and the opposition to express their opinions and voice their concerns. "I did my best to promote the exercise of democratic practices and was keen to conduct a democratic dialogue on all issues," said Gibali.
Gibali also explained that in its first legislative season, the House held very intensive and constructive debate over the state's budget and socio-economic development plan. "The House's committees also produced very important reports about laws and this helped the House very much do its legislative job in a very effective way," said Gibali.
Gibali referred to the fact that the House has used all supervisory tools at its disposal to exercise control over the government and reflect the opinion of citizens on different issues.
A general report showed that in its first legislative season, which began on 12 January and ended on 27 July, the House held 58 plenary sessions that took 278 hours, during which 532 MPs took the floor.
The report also indicated that the House has passed 146 laws including 1,749 articles, discussed 128 information requests, 230 questions and 265 proposals submitted by MPs.
Before it adjourns for summer recess, the House decided to rebuke Mohamed Abdel-Aalim, an MP affiliated with the Wafd party.
Ibrahim El-Heneidi, the chair of the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said the House's Ethics Committee decided to rebuke the MP in response to insults used when he addressed the House on 29 January. Abdel-Alim was accused of insulting the majority party Mostaqbal Watan (the Nation's Future), charging it with inappropriate practices during last year's parliamentary elections.
Abdel-Alim defended himself by telling the ethics committee that Article 112 of the constitution gives MPs the right to freely express their opinions during parliamentary debates.
In a comment, Speaker Hanafi Gibal urged all MPs to express their opinions in a disciplined and respectful way.
Before it adjourns for summer recess, the House approved two laws, the first on irrigation and water resources and the second on protection and development of lakes and fish wealth.
The law on irrigation and water resources aims at introducing a more effective system for managing water resources in Egypt, and addressing pollution and waste water at a time the country is facing dwindling water resources and adverse climate change. The 134-article law imposes fees on the use of irrigation water, with farmers obliged to pay EGP 1,250 every five years or EGP 250 per year to obtain a license (about $80 and $16, respectively).
The second law states that an "Authority on the Protection and Development of Lakes and Fish Wealth" will be set up to take charge of managing and preserving Egyptian lakes to double their production of fish. The authority, which will be affiliated with the cabinet, will be authorized with licensing fish farms and fish processing projects, as well as regulating fishing operations and managing fishing ports.