Egypt's Minister of Information, Osama Heikal, told MPs on Tuesday that since he came to office in June 2018, he has done his best to develop the role of the ministry in defending the image of Egypt and explaining government policies.
"In this respect, I want to remind everyone that the Ministry of Information was created upon the request of many and upon an initiative from President Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi to fill the void in the information and media sector," said Heikal
When he took office, Heikal said he would set up the ministry's headquarters and allocate it a budget to do its job.
"But this was not an easy job, not to mention that the constitution states that three institutions are also in charge of forging information policies, and these are the National Press Council, the National Media Council, and the Higher Council for Media Regulation.”
According to Heikal, while the National Media Council is burdened with EGP 40 million in debts, the National Press Council also suffers from EGP 22 million in accumulated debts.
In response, MPs asked Heikal not to work as both the minister of information and the chairman of the Egyptian Media Production City (EMPC) at the same time.
Ashraf Rashad, the spokesman of the Mostaqbal Watan party, which holds a majority in parliament, said "it is illegal and in violation of the constitution that Heikal doubles as both minister of information and the EMPC's chairman at the same time."
"I hope that professors of law will tell us whether what Heikal is doing is legal and constitutional," said Rashad.
MP Mostafa Salem, deputy chairman of the budget committee, also insisted that it is by no means legal and constitutional that Heikal doubles as both a minister of information and chairman of the EMPC.
"If Heikal wants to retain his post as minister of information, he should resign as the EMPC's chairman and pay back all the money he received from this post," said Salem.
He also said that "Heikal failed to achieve the ministry of information's objectives and due to the ongoing conflict between him and journalists and media institutions, I ask that the ministry of information be cancelled."
Heikal faced a barrage of attacks in the last period, with many in the private sector media accusing him of failing to do his job.