Egypt's FY 2022/23 Budget and Development Plan up for discussion before the house this week

Gamal Essam El-Din , Saturday 18 Jun 2022

Egypt's parliament – the House of Representatives – will reconvene this week after a ten-day holiday, holding plenary sessions on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.



According to the schedule of debate, the house will begin discussing the state's FY 2022/23 Budget and Socio-economic Development Plan on Monday and Tuesday.

Chairperson of the House's Budget and Plan Committee Fakhri El-Fiqi revealed last week that the committee had held two final and conclusive meetings on the new budget and plan on 14 June.

"In these two meetings, we reviewed our report which will be a matter of discussion before the house next week and also in particular review the recommendations put forward by the committee members," said El-Fiqi.

El-Fiki also indicated that the FY 2022/23 Budget and Development Plan took a month of discussion by the committee members or since the two ministers of finance and planning presented their statements before the house on 9 May. "This discussion took the form of hearing sessions and question and answer meetings with government and public sector officials," said El-Fiqi.

El-Fiqi said the recommendations passed by the committee members cover three areas: the FY 2022/23 budget itself, the financial performance of public sector economic organisations and the National Organisation for Military Production and the FY 2022/23 Socio-economic Development Plan.

In general, El-Fiqi revealed that recommendations focus on the necessity of restricting foreign borrowing. "The CBE's latest figures show that Egypt's foreign debt reached a record $145 billion," said Fakhri, adding that "the committee's report argues that though the government decided to form a committee to restrict foreign borrowing to only funding essential national development projects, we think that nothing concrete has so far been achieved in this respect."

The committee's report also recommends the government rationalise spending as much as possible. "For example, the government should cut back on hiring consultants and experts and impose a cap on salaries of state employees who are no longer covered by the 63/2014 law which imposes a maximum limit on salaries of state employees," said the report, emphasising that "these measures are necessary to bridge wide gaps between state employees in salaries."

The report also recommends that watchdog institutions play a greater role in fighting corruption and financial irregularities in government circles. "The committee's question and answer meetings over the past month show that the Administrative Prosecution Authority, for example, is not doing enough fighting administrative corruption," said the report, adding that "for example, the authority did nothing to investigate many financial irregularities committed by boards of several public service organizations," said Omar.

According to Article 124 of Egypt's 2014 constitution, the state draft budget and plan must be presented to the house at least 90 days ahead of the start of the fiscal year (on the first of July) each year. MPs have also to pass the budget and development plan for the next fiscal year before 30 June.  

On Monday, the Speaker of the House Hanafy El-Gebaly will give the floor to chairman of the budget committee or its deputy to review the committee's report on the FY 2022/23 Budget and Social-development Plan. This is followed by giving the floor to leading MPs, including heads of the parliamentary groups of political parties and chairpersons of parliamentary committees, to deliver their comments on the budget and committee.

The discussion of the budget and plan could take another week if many MPs asked to take the floor to give their comments. In any case, the douse should vote the budget and plan before 30 June.

On Sunday, the house will vote amendments to the agricultural land tax law. The law was approved in principle by MPs on 7 June, but El-Gebaly decided to postpone the final vote to a later session.

The law aims to suspend the imposition of the agricultural land tax for another year, starting from the first of July 2022 to 30 June 2023. "But many MPs want the suspension to extend for another two or three years, and so the budget committee should negotiate this with the government before we put the law to a final vote," said Gibali.

In a meeting held on 15 June, the House's  Budget and Plan Committee approved the government-drafted law (113/1939) suspending the imposition of the agricultural land tax law for two years.

"This means that the imposition of the tax will be postponed until the first of July 2023 and that this imposition can be renewed for another year, or until the first of July 2024, but only under a cabinet decision," said the committee's chairperson Fakhri El-Fiqi.

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad said the government approved a two-year suspension of the law to ease financial burdens for farmers and stimulate them to increase agricultural production of strategic crops like wheat.

Also on Sunday's schedule, the House is expected to take a final vote on a government-drafted law regulating procedures of filing appeals before the Cassation Court. The law, which was approved in principle on 7 June, aims to speed up the process of settling judicial disputes before cassation courts.

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