Egypt’s 300-member Senate will resume plenary meetings on Monday by holding elections for its 14 committees.
The Senate’s Secretary-General Mahmoud Ismail told reporters that the plenary session on Monday comes after President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi ratified the Senate’s internal bylaws on 4 March.
“The bylaws, which establish the Senate’s 14 committees, were passed by the House of Representatives on 16 February and ratified by El-Sisi on 4 March,” said Ismail, indicating that “the presidential ratification of the internal bylaws opened the door for the Senate to hold plenary sessions.”
Senators were asked to come last week to say which of the Senate’s 14 committees they wish to join. “According to the internal bylaws, each senator should join two committees,” said Ismail, adding that “on Monday, elections will be held for the leading posts of the 14 committees — a chairman, two deputies, and one secretary-general of each committee.”
According to the bylaws, there will be committees for legislative and constitutional affairs; financial, economic and investment affairs; Arab, foreign, and African affairs; as well as defence and national security.
The Senate also has committees on industry, trade, and small-scale projects; energy, environment, and labour force; housing, local administration, and transport; as well as education and scientific research.
The remaining committees are related to youth and sports; health and population; agricultural and irrigation; human rights and social solidarity; culture, tourism, and media; and religious and endowments affairs.
The Senate’s general committee and ethics committee also have to be formed on Monday.
The Senate’s bylaws include some controversial articles. Article 234 requires senators to secure the speaker’s approval before travelling abroad. Senators who travel abroad on the chamber’s request or for specific missions are not required to seek a prior approval.
Article 284 states that senators will receive a basic monthly salary of LE5,000, that the Senate speaker receive a salary on par with the prime minister, and the speaker’s two deputies on par with cabinet ministers. The Senators’ salaries will not be exempted from taxes.
Article 155 sets a quorum of 200 senators for meetings to be valid.
The 300-member Senate, Egypt’s consultative second chamber, is mainly tasked with discussing proposed constitutional amendments, national socio-economic development plans, international treaties and alliances, and draft laws referred by the president or the House of Representatives.
Article 164 allows the Senate to hold closed-door meetings at the request of the president, the prime minister, the speaker, or a minimum of 20 senators, to discuss issues related to sovereign interests or listen to statements and clarifications on decisions related to significant domestic and foreign policies.