File Photo: The Egyptian parliament during their session. Al-Ahram
Egypt’s parliament — the House of Representatives — held a two-hour plenary meeting on Monday to take a final vote on a host of six legislations and three foreign agreements.
Parliament Speaker Hanafy Gebaly said the laws were discussed and revised by the House and the State Council and were up for a final vote on Monday.
A new three-month extension of the state of emergency in Egypt was finally approved by MPs.
A decree issued by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (174/2021) stipulates that the state of emergency in Egypt be extended for an additional three months starting 1 am of 24 July, 2021.
Article two of El-Sisi's decree states that the military and police forces will take all the measures necessary to combat terrorism, preserve security in all of Egypt, protect all public and private property, and safeguard the lives of citizens in line with the 1958 emergency law.
MPs have also given the final approval to the amendments to the 1973 law on the measures regulating the dismissal of state employees. The amendments, drafted by MP Ali Badr, stipulate that state employees and civil servants with proven links to the Muslim Brotherhood group or to any terrorist-designated organisation will be automatically dismissed from the state's administrative units.
Amendments to the House's internal bylaws were also approved on Monday. The amendments, drafted by MP Alaa Abed, will entail modifying 27 articles of the House's internal bylaws and eliminating four others. Abed said the amendments of the House's internal bylaws, issued in 2016, were necessary to go in line with constitutional amendments passed in Egypt in April 2019.
Most significantly among the amendments is that MPs' salaries and financial rewards will no longer be exempted from taxes and fees.
The amendments also state that a political party having three seats — instead of 10 seats — in parliament will be allowed to be represented in the House's General Committee.
The amendments were also introduced to give the Senate, which was created in 2020, a say on legislations, agreements, and constitutional changes.
Also, amendments to the 1937 penal code to introduce harsher penalties for assault and sexual harassment crimes were approved on Monday. Under the amendments, drafted by leader of the parliamentary majority party of Mostaqbal Watan (the Nation's Future) Ashraf Rashad, Article 306 (paragraphs A & B) of the 1937 Penal Code will be changed.
The amended Article 306 (Paragraph A) states that “whoever is convicted of assaulting others in public or private places in the form of sexual or pornographic gestures and insinuations, either in words or actions or virtually, will be sentenced to a prison term ranging from two to four years and a fine ranging from EGP 100,000 to EGP 200,000.
The article also states that whoever is found guilty of repeating the crime in terms of chasing and tracking victims will be sentenced to a prison term ranging from three to five years and a fine from EGP 200,000 to EGP 300,000.
The amended Article 306 (Paragraph B) stipulates an amendment to the Penal Code’s Article 267, setting out that offenders whose circumstances allow them to have a professional, familial, or academic authority over a victim, or otherwise exercise any kind of pressure to allow them to commit their crime, will be sentenced to a prison term no less than seven years and a fine between EGP 300,000 and EGP 500,000.
The same penalty will be imposed if the sexual harassment crime was committed by two persons or more and one of them was holding a weapon.
MPs also approved legislative amendments allowing the General Authority for Arbitration and Cotton Tests to take charge of supervising all licensed cotton gins as well as handling of cotton on the market.
MPs also finally voted in favour of a draft law granting the Egyptian Group for Multi-purpose Stations the concession of setting up and operating a multi-purpose station at Alexandria's port (quays 55-62).
The House's agenda on Monday also included a final approval of two agreements on oil prospection. The two agreements allow the Ministry of Petroleum to sign contracts with Energy Egypt Limited Company to prospect for oil in Edko north of the Nile Delta, and with the Egyptian Holding Company for Natural Gas and Sea Dragon Energy Company to prospect for oil in south Dessouq in the Nile Delta.
MPs concluded Monday's plenary by finally approving a loan agreement between Egypt and a consortium of French banks.
Parliament Speaker Gebaly announced that the House's next plenary session will be held on 24 July.