A year’s legislative harvest

Gamal Essam El-Din , Tuesday 9 Jan 2024

The House of Representatives has released a report summarising its 2023 legislative work, reports Gamal Essam El-Din

The House of Representatives


Parliamentary Speaker Hanafi Gebali hailed the key role played by the House of Representatives in pushing forward economic reform, reviewing pressing social issues and the everyday concerns of ordinary citizens and reinforcing positive coordination with the government.

A 10-page report issued by the House described the 51 sessions held to debate and endorse laws in 2023 as “unprecedented”.

According to the report, in the course of the year the House debated and passed 188 laws, the majority of which dealt with economic, financial, and budgetary matters, including policies to promote private investment, protect intellectual property rights, boost exports, and support small-sized enterprises.

Laws establishing the Egyptian Authority for Intellectual Property Rights, the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Tourism, the Supreme Council for Vehicle Manufacturing, the Fund for Financing the Electric Vehicle Assembly Industry and the Egyptian Agency for Investment and Export Guarantees were among the raft of legislation approved by MPs.

The House nodded through legislation allowing Egyptian expats to import tax-free cars and laws that cracked down on illegal construction on agricultural land, legalised unlicensed industrial projects and offered preferential tax regimes to contractors involved in building the Dabaa nuclear power plant.

Tax exemptions for state-owned entities were eliminated in a bid to level the playing field with the private sector and the 2017 Investment Law was amended to support private sector participation and promote competition and transparency.

Also given a stamp of approval in 2023 were laws establishing two new shipping terminals at Port Said port with investments worth $565 million. The new legislation allows the Suez Canal Economic Zone to offer 30-year contracts to foreign companies to design, construct, manage, and operate the two multi-purpose terminals.

Incentives to small and medium-scale enterprises were legally enshrined and a syndicate established for graduates of technological schools and colleges. A legislative amendment to the law regulating the performance of the Egyptian Meteorological Authority imposed a fine ranging from LE100,000 to LE5 million on anyone providing unlicensed meteorological services or posting false information about weather conditions.

MPs voted for a package of wage and pension hikes for state employees in FY 2023-24 and approved the FY 2023-24 state budget and socioeconomic development plan. Gebali said the LE300-600 wage and pension hikes were necessary to help state employees and pensioners cope with soaring inflation.

The report pointed out that in 2021 the House approved 51 international agreements aimed at supporting the national economy, achieving sustainable development and reinforcing Egypt’s relations with other states and international institutions and organisations.

On social issues, the report noted that the House had debated laws empowering the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood to play a more effective role in protecting children and women against violent crimes and toughening penalties for sexual harassment and bullying.

A landmark law establishing the National Alliance for Civil Work and Development was passed which, according to MP Talaat Abdel-Qawi, unites hundreds of independent NGOs into a single federation capable of implementing large development projects.

A National Council for Persons with Disabilities was also established. The 19-member body replaces the National Council for Disability Affairs and is mandated to promote the welfare of disabled people.

Gebali said the House had served as an objective and unbiased watchdog of government actions and performance. According to the report, MPs submitted 119 questions and an “unprecedented” 839 requests for information to cabinet ministers. MPs debated 50 discussion requests and reviewed 461 private members’ bills. Eight cabinet ministers were summoned to the House to answer questions on their portfolios.

“The House’s 25 committees held 2,232 meetings over 2,860 hours to discuss new legislation,” noted the report. “Committees issued 677 reports covering all aspects of life in Egypt, and committee members made 16 field visits to solve problems facing citizens on the ground.”

In 2023, the House had actively participated in parliamentary conferences in support of Arab causes. “MPs joined the urgent meeting of the Arab Parliamentary Union in Baghdad last October to discuss Israel’s aggression against Gaza and ways to extend humanitarian aid to the Palestinians there,” said the report, and in February 2023 Gebali joined other Arab parliamentary speakers on a visit to Syria to show solidarity with the Syrian people following a devastating earthquake.

Commenting on the report, MP Abdel-Moneim Imam, chairman of the Justice (Adl) Party, told Al-Ahram Weekly that the House of Representatives’ legislative and supervisory achievements should be judged in terms of its ability “to influence the decision-making process and project itself as a counterbalance to the executive authority” rather than a metric that merely counted the number of legislative amendments passed.

“Most of the questions and information requests were insignificant and more appropriate at a district council level, while more serious questions about inflation rates and the government’s performance were completely ignored,” said Imam.

* A version of this article appears in print in the 11 January, 2024 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

Short link: