Protest law to be amended, poultry customs exemption to be reviewed: Egypt PM

Ahram Online , Sunday 4 Dec 2016

Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail
File photo of Egyptian Prime Minister Sherif Ismail (Reuters)

Egypt's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail said on Sunday that the country's contentious protest law will be amended after a court ruled one of its articles unconstitutional, and that a committee is currently looking into a controversial decision to lift import taxes on poultry.

Ismail said during a press conference at the cabinet headquarters that the 2013 protest law will be "amended" after a court ruled on Saturday that an article that grants the interior ministry authority to deny protest requests was unconstitutional.

"Draft legislation will then be submitted to the cabinet before review by the parliament," he said, according to MENA. 

The court has however upheld other challenged articles, including one that imposes jail sentences and hefty fines for unauthorised demonstrations, something that critics say are broadly defined.

Saturday's ruling has angered rights campaigners who say the law as a whole is unconstitutional and that the ruling means that hundreds of protesters arrested under the legislation will remain in prison.

Ismail also spoke about a decision last week to exempt frozen poultry from taxes and custom duties, which has caused uproar among local poultry producers who argue the move will hurt local industry, saying that a government committee "is studying the [new] move from all aspects" and will draw up a report on the matter.

Locally produced poultry known as "balady" chicken, which many consumers prefer, is currently more expensive than imported frozen chicken.

The government says the decision is aimed at keeping prices stable after recent hikes, while producers claim prices haven't been subject to fluctuations in the first place, arguing that the decision was unnecessary.

Ismail also said during Saturday's press conference that the country's finance ministry is mulling the adoption of progressive taxation, a longstanding demand by many left-of-centre political groups. A report by the ministry on the matter will be put to the cabinet by the end of this year.

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