Egypt parliament to vote on the Senate's bylaws; discuss the anti-Heikal report this week

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 13 Feb 2021

The House of Representatives will also be presented a policy statement delivered by the minister of justice on Tuesday

File Photo: Egypt's Parliament. REUTERS

Egypt parliament – the House of Representatives - will get down to business again this week.

On Sunday, the Senate's 292-article bylaws will be up for discussion and will be in for a vote after receiving approval from the House's Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

The Senate – Egypt's upper house advisory chamber – discussed and approved its bylaws on 29 November 2020 and referred them to the House of Representatives to be enacted into law.

The bylaws include some controversial articles such as article 155 which states that the Senate's plenary meetings can not be valid unless they are attended by two thirds of the majority of members.

Article 164 also states that the Senate can hold secret meetings upon the request of the president, the prime minister, the speaker or at least 20 senators.

The amended bylaws will strip the prime minister of his right to invite the Senate to hold plenary meetings.

The bylaws however, state that the Senate can hold "special meetings" upon the request of the president or the prime minister to exchange views on issues related to supreme national interests or listen to statements and clarifications on decisions related to the state's internal and external public policies.

The bylaws also left in place a controversial article requiring that senators take prior approval from the speaker before traveling abroad.

Another controversial article is that the senators' rewards will be exempted from all kinds of taxes.

The Senate bylaws state that each senator will obtain a monthly reward of EGP 5,000 and in any case this amount can't exceed EGP 20,000. As for the Senate's speaker, he will obtain a monthly reward equal to the prime minister's.

On Sunday, the House is also scheduled to discuss an eight-page report on the policy statement delivered by Minister of Information Osama Heikal.

The report, prepared by the House's Media and Culture Committee, directs scathing criticism of Heikal, accusing him of poor performance and financial negligence.

It also said Heikal's policy statement, delivered before the House on 19 January, is rejected because "Heikal failed to achieve the objectives of his ministry and that he violated a number of financial and administrative regulations."

The report said the fact that Heikal also works as chairman of the Egyptian Media Production City a constitutional and legal offence. "This (EMPC) is goes against Article 166 of the constitution and stock companies' law," said Article 79 of the joint the report.

It also said that a number of public announcements made by Minister Heikal have done a lot of political damage to the state's reputation and image.

"The minister's aggressive statements against Egyptian journalists and media people in terms of accusing them of poor performance were exploited by hostile television channels (broadcasting from Qatar and Turkey) to attack the Egyptian state," said the report, adding that "Heikal made another bad announcement when he claimed that Ethiopian media excelled the Egyptian one in its coverage of the GERD negotiations in Washington last year."

The report recommended that the information ministry be scrapped, but it states this decision should be left to the president.

Heikal is the only cabinet minister which received ferocious attacks from MPs, leading many to believe that he will be fired in any expected cabinet re-shuffle.

Also on Sunday, parliament is scheduled to discuss and vote on two new laws, the first is one exempting bonds up for sale in foreign markets from all kinds of taxes and fees.

The second is government-drafted and is on regulating blood transfusion and plasma collection operations with the objective of processing and exporting its derivatives.

On Tuesday, the minister of justice will appear before parliament to deliver his ministry's policy statement.

A number of 29 cabinet ministers have so far addressed MPs on the implementation of the government's "Egypt Kicks Off" programme.

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