Egypt's parliament approves five economic laws, including one to engage private sector in economic development

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 25 Jan 2022

Egypt House of Representatives gave Tuesday a final approval of five important economic laws, including the General Unified Planning Law which aims to engage the private sector in economic development projects.


Topping the list are two laws on the General Unified Planning and the General Unified Finance.

The General Unified Planning Law aims to streamline the process of preparing Egypt's economic policies and engage the private sector in economic development projects.

Minister of Planning and Economic Development Hala El-Saeed told MPs that the law states that a Higher Council for Planning and Sustainable Development will be set up to help create coordination among all state authorities, the private sector, and civil society organisations when it comes to forging economic planning policies, and that the Council will make sure that no development projects are implemented without making sure first that they are economically feasible.

Article one states that "while the Council will be headed by the president of the republic, its board members will include the prime minister, the governor of the Central Bank of Egypt, the ministers of planning, international cooperation and finance, five cabinet ministers to be nominated by the prime minister, and four development experts to be nominated by the minister of planning."

As for the General Unified Finance Law, it will merge two pieces of legislation regulating the annual state budget and government accounting into a single bill. Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait told MPs that the law 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.

The House also approved a legislative amendment to law regulating cotton production (law 106/1973) to allow merge the fund on improving Egyptian cottons into the Cotton Research Institute related to the Agricultural Research Center. "The merge is a step forward on the way of the government's efforts aimed at improving the quality of Egyptian cottons," said a House report.

The fourth law which got final approval from MPs on Tuesday was one which gives a legal green light for the Arab Union Company for Land Transport "Super Jet" to obtain an EGP 800 million loan from a number of Egyptian banks under guarantees provided by Minister of Finance. A parliamentary report said "the loan will give Super Jet the money necessary to buy 120 minibuses and build a garage inside Egypt's New Administrative Capital (NAC) to serve the first phase of internal transport there and that it will make it legal for the Finance Minister to guarantee Super Jet as the constitution stipulates that the government can take loans or offer loan guarantees only with prior approval from parliament.”

The report indicated that “Internal transportation is very important to facilitate the transfer of businesses and government ministries and institutions to the NAC, particularly during the first phase of operations there."

The fifth – and last – law which got final nod from MPs was a one which will set up "The Tourism and Antiquities Fund," which aims to merge the existing three funds that finance Nubia's antiquities, national museums and tourism under one entity.

A House report explained that the new fund would finance national projects in the area of restoring antiquities, upgrading Egyptian museums, and promoting the tourism sector.

"The final objective of this law is to conserve the heritage of Egypt's civilisation and keep it intact for the coming generations, and achieve concrete progress in the sector of tourism," said the report.

On Tuesday, the House also provisionally approved a draft law on regulating hotel and tourism establishments. A House report said "the law aims to regulate and facilitate the procedures of licensing tourism and hotel establishments in terms of introducing the "One Window" system, and that this new system will help boost tourist investments in terms of phasing out bureaucratic obstacles and hence generating more revenues from the tourism sector."

The draft law stipulates that a tourism ministerial committee, headed by the prime minister and including concerned ministers, will be formed to facilitate all procedures related to tourist activities, overcome all obstacles that might stand in the way of promoting tourist investments, and finally raise the competitive edge of Egypt in the area of tourism.

Minister of State of Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad demanded that article 23 of the law on granting ministry of tourism's inspectors judicial powers ensure that tourism and hotel establishments offer high quality services to clients. MPs, however, rejected, insisting that inspection of tourism and hotel establishments could happen without need for judicial powers.

The House speaker Hanafi Gibali said "the law on hotel and tourism establishments" will be up for a final vote in a later session. The House's next plenary sessions will be held on 6 February.

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