National Dialogue proposes raising 25% ceiling on non-Egyptians’ NGO membership

Amr Kandil , Saturday 19 Aug 2023

The National Dialogue proposed amendments to several articles of Law 149/2019, which regulates the exercise of civil work, including raising the 25 percent ceiling on non-Egyptians’ NGO membership.

 Egyptian National Dialogue s
The second session of the Egyptian National Dialogue s political axis held in Cairo on Sunday, 21 May, 2023. Photo courtesy of the official Facebook Page of the National Dialogue

According to the proposed amendment to Article 5 of the law, non-Egyptians who have a temporary or permanent residence in Egypt can constitute more than 25 percent of the members of an NGO, with the majority remaining Egyptian.

The amendment does not, however, apply to “organizations of special nature following a decision by the head of the central administration for civil associations and institutions at the Ministry of Social Solidarity.”

The dialogue also proposed amending articles 10 and 23 of the law to allow civil society groups to open accounts at the Egyptian Post and remove a provision that prevents them from opening several bank accounts unless their annual revenues or expenditures exceed EGP 5 million.

Furthermore, the participants in the dialogue proposed an amendment to Article 17 of the law to offer non-profit organizations a 50 percent discount on water, electricity, gas and telephone bills.

They also suggested the amendment of Article 43 of the law to allow paying NGO board members for the sessions they attend and the activities they hold at their organizations. 

Moreover, the dialogue suggested reconsidering both the 60-day waiting period that the current law mandates for civil society groups to obtain approvals for their initiatives or activities and the 90-day waiting period before they can get donations.

The participants further proposed that the fines the current law imposes on NGOs be reconsidered since they constitute a financial burden.

Egypt has around 52,000 civil society groups, according to data by the Ministry of Social Solidarity in June.

Parliamentary, local councils elections

The dialogue also highlighted the need to quickly hold local councils elections whereby the closed list system is used to elect 75 percent of the members and the proportional list system to elect 25 percent of the members. The participants in the dialogue proposed that local councils be provided with mechanisms that enable citizens to engage in planning and managing projects.

They also suggested increasing the number of parliament members to allow the National Election Authority (NEA) to encourage citizens to cast their ballots, thus providing further protection to the electorate database.   

Anti-discrimination Commission

The dialogue proposed drafting legislation to establish an independent anti-discrimination commission, stressing that it will receive complaints linked to discrimination, establish an information platform, set the required plans to build the capacities of those working in public and law enforcement and train media professionals.

Backing scientific research

The National Dialogue suggested facilitating procedures for professors to travel abroad on scientific missions.

The participants in the dialogue also proposed encouraging Arab professors and students to come to Egyptian universities to meet the faculty and the students and use the libraries.

They also called for launching joint research projects between universities and encouraging the private sector and civil society groups to contribute money to scientific research. 

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