Egypt's Senate to discuss amendments to laws regulating NGOs and insurance activities

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 26 Mar 2022

Egypt’s Senate – the consultative upper house – will meet on Sunday to discuss amendments to the law regulating the performance of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and articles of the new Unified Insurance Law.

Egypt s Senate
Egypt s Senate . Al-Ahram

A report by the Senate's Human Rights and Social Solidarity Committee stated that NGOs Law 149/2019 was amended in January to give a one-year extension for NGOs to legalise their status in the country.

As a result, the report added, Article 2 of the law will be amended to open the extension of the legal adjustment period allowed for NGOs for another year, starting 12 January 2022 and concluding 12 January 2023.

In 2021, the cabinet issued regulations granting NGOs in Egypt a year to comply with the new NGO Law 149/2019. However, the cabinet, upon a request by Egypt's National Council for Human Rights (NCHR), decided last January to extend the one-year grace period for another year.

"The additional year will give NGOs enough time to adjust their legal conditions as required by the law," said the report, adding that "the extension is also meant to give sufficient time to adjust the conditions of the NGOs that were unable to hold their extraordinary general assembly due to the anti-coronavirus protective measures, to familiarise themselves with the electronic system legalising and regulating their status, and to accommodate all the organisational procedures that must be met."

The report said "the Senate's Human Rights Committee welcomes the one-year extension for NGOs to play their role in society in line with the new law,"

It pointed out that "the amendment also reflects President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi's call during the World Youth Forum last January to declare 2022 as "the Year of Civil Society."

The report concluded that the NCHR said the extension was necessary to affirm the authorities' positive interaction with the council's calls and the state's greater openness to enhance the role of NGOs and their contribution to community service."

The NCHR said in a statement in January that the cabinet’s decision gives the opportunity to over 20,000 NGOs and civil society organisations to legalise their status, adding that only 31,000 NGOs out of 54,000 were able to settle their legal status before the initial deadline of 12 January.

Some governorates only saw 35 percent of their operating NGOs able to legalise their status, it added.

 “The cabinet's decision is in line with the principles of freedom of organisation and bolstering community-based action in accordance with the rule of law and international accords on human rights,” the NCHR said.

Once approved by the Senate, the amendment will be referred to the House of Representatives to be discussed and endorsed. The amendment should also be ratified by President El-Sisi.

Meanwhile, the Senate is scheduled to resume discussions on Sunday over the articles of the new Unified Insurance Law.

The Senate, which approved the 217-article law in principle on 27 February, has so far discussed 70 articles.

Hani Sirrieddin, head of the Senate's Financial and Economic Affairs Committee, said the draft law aims to draw up new and comprehensive rules for regulating the insurance industry and market in Egypt.

 “The past four decades have practically shown that the insurance market is in dire need for new legislative and regulatory rules,” said Sirrieddin, adding that “technological developments and the creation of new insurance tools also require that a unified insurance legislation be passed.”

Sirrieddin stated that the new law is necessary to cover a host of professions and services that were lately introduced into the insurance industry.

It seeks to cover the rights of holders of insurance policies and private insurance funds,” said Sirrieddin, noting that “the law also aims to streamline insurance rules to go in line with new international standards, and to speed up digitisation reforms and the use of financial technology in the insurance sector.”

Sirrieddin pointed out that “the law is meant to widen the scope of obligatory insurance operations in order to achieve insurance inclusiveness and reach out to poor and limited-income classes that are not currently covered by any kind of insurance, particularly health insurance.”

He explained that the new law will cover all kinds of insurance operations. "The law will regulate insurance companies, special funds, obligatory operations, such as highway accidents, and state the new supervisory rules for the insurance industry," said Sirrieddin, adding that "at the end we will have a unified law that will regulate all forms of insurance in Egypt that is in line with international rules and methods and imposes stricter supervision."

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