Egypt's Senate approves new General Unified Finance Law

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 4 Jul 2021

Senators said the law is a very progressive step towards improving Egypt's financial and budgeting performance

photo: Khaled Mashaal

The Senate — Egypt’s consultative upper house — provisionally approved on Sunday a new law aiming to upgrade the system of drafting the state’s annual budget.

Speaker of the Senate Abdel-Wahab Abdel-Razek said the new General Unified Finance Law helps achieve the government’s economic reform plans and enhance the government’s socio-economic development objectives.

The Senate’s Deputy Speaker, Bahaa El-Din Abu Shoka said one of the key objectives of  the government-drafted General Unified Finance Law is to merge two pieces of legislation regulating the annual state budget and  government accounting into a single bill.

“These two pieces of legislation were passed a long time ago and so have become unable to keep pace with the latest changes in the area of drafting state budgets and using digital and mechanised systems in this respect,” said Abu Shoka.

Senator Ihab Zakaria said the new bill is part of the government’s economic and structural reforms that go in line with modern international methods in the area of budgeting and accounting.

“I hope that the government will prepare for this law well by issuing detailed executive regulations and conducting training courses for state employees in order to be able to implement it as required,” said Zakaria.

Voicing his agreement, Senate Speaker Abdel-Razek said that, once passed, it would be difficult to implement the General Unified Finance Law without issuing clear-cut and detailed executive regulations.

“I think that executive regulations are in many cases more important than the law itself,” said Abdel-Razek.

Senator Fayez Abu Harb said the new General Unified Finance Law is a very progressive step because it targets achieving transparency during the preparation of the country’s annual budget in terms of using the e-signature system and modern mechanised methods which help achieve fiscal discipline, rationalise public spending, and boost accountability and budgeting performance,” said Abu Harb.

A report prepared by the Senate’s Financial, Economic, and Investment Affairs Committee said the government-drafted General Unified Finance Law aims to improve Egypt’s financial performance. 

“However, the government believes that this will never be possible without merging two laws which regulate Egypt’s financial performance — the state’s Public Budget Law 53/1973 and Government Accounting Law 127/1981,” said the report, adding that “the step to unify the two laws comes upon the recommendation of international financial institutions and in light of the worldwide shift to digital and mechanised budgetary and accounting systems.” 

Article one of the new General Unified Finance Law states that all state institutions covered by the annual state budget will be subject to the law. These institutions include the state’s administrative units, local administration units, general and service organisations, private funds and accounts, economic organisations, and projects funded by private accounts.

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