MPs return to work

Gamal Essam El-Din , Thursday 29 Sep 2022

A busy legislative agenda awaits the House and the Senate as they reconvene next week.

MPs return to work
MPs return to work


The House of Representatives and the Senate reconvene next week following a three-month summer recess. President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi issued two decrees on 22 September calling on the House to reconvene on Saturday and the Senate on Tuesday.

House Speaker Hanafi Gibali will chair Saturday’s opening procedural meeting. The following day, two procedural plenary sessions will be held. In the first, MPs will put themselves forward for membership of the House’s 25 committees. The second session will see the announcement of the results.

The inauguration of the House’s third legislative session comes as Egypt is preparing to hold a national dialogue and an economic conference. MP Mohamed Abdel-Ghani, a member of the Socialist Democratic Party, told Al-Ahram Weekly that difficult economic circumstances triggered by the war in Ukraine had put a lot of pressure on public finances “and were among the reasons President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi invited political forces to gather in a national dialogue to discuss political and economic priorities in the coming stage, and to call for an economic conference”.

The House, said Abdel-Ghani, will be working closely with the national dialogue on political laws to reinvigorate political life.

“President Al-Sisi has said he will refer legislative amendments proposed by the dialogue to the House and we hope that these will lead to greater political openness.” Abdel-Ghani also noted that 10 MPs and four senators have been selected to act as rapporteurs and assistant rapporteurs for the dialogue’s political, social and economic subcommittees.

Abdel-Ghani, who has been named rapporteur of the dialogue’s political rights and parliamentary representation subcommittee, expects four political laws — on the exercise of political rights, the regulation of parliamentary elections, the performance of political parties, and the performance of local councils — to be amended and discussed by the House in its new legislation session.

MP Mohamed Abdel-Aziz, deputy chairman of the House’s Human Rights Committee, believes the dialogue will help the government and opposition find common ground on the country’s economic and political priorities in the coming stage. He said recent decisions to release dozens of pre-trial detainees and prisoners have helped pave the way to a fruitful dialogue and vibrant parliamentary session.

“We need to find legislative solutions for activists who lost their jobs for political reasons and for students who were expelled from their colleges and universities because of detention,” he added.

Wafdist MP Ayman Mehasseb also praised the release of prisoners and pre-trial detainees, saying it “sends a message that the government is serious about reform, democratisation, human rights, and the national dialogue.”

A week ago, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouli revealed that the government plans to refer amendments to the laws combating illegal construction and monopolistic practices to the House in its new parliamentary session.

Cabinet Spokesman Nader Saad said changes to the construction law will aim to make it easier for citizens to settle building offences as long as they do not pose a risk to life.

Ahmed Al-Sigini, chairman of the House’s Local Administration Committee, expects two long-delayed laws regulating local councils and old rental contracts to feature on the new session’s agenda.

“Local councils have been in limbo since 2011 when the Supreme Administrative Court invalidated elections,” said Al-Sigini. “Legislation that regulates local council elections and the performance of councils is long overdue.”

Al-Sigini also pointed out that “a joint committee, including members from the House’s Local Administration Committee and the Ministry of Housing, has been working to amend the housing rent law since May.

“Old rents have also been in limbo for decades. We need a new law to create a balanced relationship between tenants and landlords,” he said.

Three laws already approved by the Senate in its outgoing session, the unified insurance law, the labour law and amendments to the competition law, are also expected to be debated by the House.

Before it adjourned for the summer recess in July the House received two draft bills from the government. The first seeks to establish a council for vehicle manufacturing and a fund to manage the financing of a local electric vehicle production industry, the second amending the 1994 environment law to give the Environmental Affairs Authority greater powers. Both are expected to be debated in the new session.

Mehasseb also expects the State Ownership Policy Document, released by Madbouly in June, to be high on the agenda of both the House and the national dialogue. The document seeks to restructure the Egyptian economy in a way that will allow the private sector to generate 65 per cent of GDP within three years. Mehassab warned that “if the document leads to private sector monopolies or undermines social justice opposition parties and MPs will team up and seek to amend it.”

As in the House of Representatives, the Senate’s opening session will be procedural, with the election of members of the Senate’s 14 committees and discussions of its upcoming agenda.

Under the constitution the opinion of the 180-member Senate must be sought on constitutional amendments, the five-year socio-economic development plan and foreign agreements and treaties before they are referred to the House.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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