Abdallah Asr, chairman of the Senate’s Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee, said in a plenary meeting on Sunday that one of the three legislative amendments approved this week — that drafted by MP Mohamed Al-Sallab — “supports the health, economic, social, cultural, entertainment, sporting and educational rights of physically-challenged individuals, making sure they exercise their political rights and are integrated into society in compliance with principles of equality and justice”.
A report prepared by the Legislative and Constitutional Affairs Committee said the amendment falls within the context of government efforts to achieve equality among citizens across Egyptian society. “The physically-challenged are an integral part of the Egyptian society and they should receive all kinds of protection in line with Articles 80 and 81 of the constitution,” the report said.According to Asr, the changes toughen penalties for those convicted of bullying the physically challenged. Perpetrators now face a minimum penalty of one year in prison and a fine ranging from LE50,000 to LE100,000 and, in cases were the perpetrator is related to the victim, two years in prison and a fine ranging from LE100,000 to LE200,000.
Hossam Al-Khouli, Senate spokesperson of the majority Mostaqbal Watan Party, said even stronger penalties were needed to stem the tide of bullying.
The Senate also approved a legislative amendment setting up a charitable (Waqf) fund to implement development projects to improve the lives of street children.
Senate Deputy Speaker Bahaa Abu Shoqa said the legislative amendment is in line with Article 90 of the constitution which provides for the sponsorship of scientific, cultural, health and social activities.
Senator Gamil Halim said the proposed charitable fund will be devoted to disseminating moderate Islam, and contribute to establishing infrastructure projects that will improve slum areas and end the phenomenon of street children.
A report jointly prepared by the Waqf’s, Financial and Economic Affairs Committees said that the charitable fund will be affiliated with the prime minister’s office and operate in all governorates.
The fund will be financed by donations, investments and the annual return on Waqf projects supervised by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and will be exempt from all taxes and fees. The fund’s board will be chaired by the prime minister and include the minister of Waqfs deputy chairman, four economic experts, three Waqf ministry officials, a member of the judiciary and a financial expert. The board will be tasked with approving a draft budget and balance sheet as well as reviewing periodical reports on the fund’s activities.
On the same day the Senate approved a third legislative amendment regulating the performance of the Syndicate of Engineers (law 66/1974).
Essam Hilal, deputy chairman of the Senate’s Housing and Local Administration Committee, said the change will help the syndicate keep pace with technological progress in the field of engineering sciences.
“The amendment also stipulates that engineers affiliated with the syndicate are the only ones who can be appointed in government ministries, public organisations and public companies,” said Hilal.
“The changes will regulate internal syndicate polls, stipulate the disbursement of registration and membership fees, subscription fees paid by engineering consultancy offices, state donations and fees imposed on cement and iron sales.”
*A version of this article appears in print in the 8 April, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly