Egypt parliament to hold urgent meeting Monday to discuss law regulating nuclear businesses

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 25 Nov 2017

File photo: Egyptian parliament (Photo: Reuters)

Egyptian parliament speaker Ali Abdel-Aal said on Saturday that an urgent plenary meeting will be held on Monday to discuss a draft law aimed at regulating nuclear businesses in Egypt.

A press release said that the meeting will be held to debate amendments to the 2010 law regulating nuclear businesses in Egypt.

Deputy speaker Mahmoud El-Sherif told reporters that although parliament's plenary meetings were scheduled to be held on 3 December, the urgent meeting will be held on Monday to discuss a number of issues related to Egypt's nuclear power projects.

Parliament will also discuss the ramifications of the terrorist attack on Al-Rawda Mosque in North Sinai on Friday, which left 305 worshippers dead and 128 injured.

"Article 277 of parliament's internal bylaws allows [the speaker] to hold such urgent meetings," said El-Sherif.

Egypt's agreement with Russia to build four nuclear power stations at El-Dabaa, west of Alexandria, has seen a number of positive developments in recent days.

Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker announced last week that the State Council has finally revised contracts on the four stations, and "it is now up to the political leaderships in Egypt and Russia to finally sign and ratify these contracts."

Shaker said he expects that construction on the first nuclear power station at El-Dabaa will begin in December.

Russian state-owned company Rosatom, which will be in charge of implementing the project, said at a press conference on 21 November that both Egypt and Russia will lay the foundation stone of the El-Dabaa project within two months.

Rasheed Sadikov, Russia's consul in Alexandria, said that Russia has given Egypt a $25 billion loan to help build the El-Dabaa plants.

On Saturday, parliament's energy and environment committee approved a legislative amendment exempting the El-Dabaa plants from taxes and custom tariffs.

Talaat El-Sewedi, the head of the committee, told reporters that MPs approved an amendment to Article 7 of the 1976 law, which regulates the performance of the Egyptian Nuclear Power Authority (ENPA), to help facilitate the construction of El-Dabaa project.

"El-Dabaa will be Egypt's first nuclear project and it is expected to boost the country’s power capacity by at least 20 percent," said El-Sewedi, adding that the project will also make Egypt a major exporter of power to neighbouring countries.

Article 7, in its newly amended form, states that "all equipment, tools, cars, spare parts and materials to be imported by ENPA will be exempted from any custom duties, and all companies and institutions contracted by ENPA will be also granted the same exemptions."

Article 7 also stipulates that ENPA's loans and credit facilities borrowed from foreign sources to build nuclear power projects in Egypt are to be completely exempted from all taxes, and that contractors and sub-contractors employed by ENPA to build its projects will be granted the same exemptions.

Foreign contractors and sub-contractors employed by ENPA will also be exempted from any restrictions in terms of foreign workers and profit-share ceilings.

Parliament's energy and environment committee is also currently debating a government-drafted law aimed at the creation of "the Executive Authority for the Administration of Nuclear Power Generation Projects."

The authority, which will be affiliated with the Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy and will be located in Cairo with possible branches inside or outside Egypt, will be responsible for the technical supervision of nuclear stations designed to generate electricity.

"This will include supervising the performance of contractors employed to implement nuclear stations in Egypt, issue progress reports on nuclear projects, and release annual reports on the authority's finances to be revised by the minister of electricity and parliament's energy and environment committee," the draft law said.

"The Executive Authority will also take charge of the experimental operation of nuclear projects and make sure that they are implemented on time and in coordination with other authorities involved in implementing nuclear power stations in Egypt.”

El-Sewedi said that parliament and the government are now moving by leaps and bounds to pave the way for the construction of the four nuclear power stations at El-Dabaa.

"All the legislative amendments related to nuclear activities will help implementing the El-Dabaa project on time and without facing any legislative obstacles or financial impediments," said El-Sewedi.

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