Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)
Tuesday,24 October, 2017
Issue 1363, (5 - 11 October 2017)

Ahram Weekly

A law-laden session

After three procedural sittings on consecutive days parliament will grapple with a host of draft laws, writes Gamal Essam El-Din

 

Ismail addressing MPs at the opening procedural sitting
Ismail addressing MPs at the opening procedural sitting

Parliament’s summer recess ended on 2 October with MPs returning to a loaded legislative session.

During the opening procedural sitting on Monday Speaker Ali Abdel-Aal urged MPs to keep a close watch on the government’s performance and actively examine all draft laws submitted to the House.

He advised MPs that changes to 15 key laws can be expected, ranging from regulating local councils, the Administrative Control, Nuclear Power Stations and Civil Status Authorities, to the Stock Exchange, labour conditions, trade union elections and the setting of public notary fees.

“Other draft laws submitted will cover bidding procedures, family courts, consumer protection, agricultural and fishing activities, national press organisations and the penal code,” said Abdel-Aal.

New draft laws will be handed to the relevant parliamentary committees within the next few weeks.

“All MPs, majority and minority, have an obligation to examine these laws carefully to ensure they reflect people’s hopes for a better future,” said Abdel-Aal.

He noted that the government of Prime Minister Sherif Ismail, formed in September 2015, “has enacted very bold reforms, supported by the president and parliament and approved by the people, to place the country on a sound economic footing”.

He went on to tell MPs the burdens the reforms had placed on the shoulders of ordinary citizens were heavy. “Within this context I would urge the government to exert more effort to control prices and impose stringent disciplinary measures on markets. It must also work to improve the quality of public services so citizens reap the fruits of these reforms soon.”

Abdel-Aal vowed that parliament will listen to “the public and attend to the grievances of citizens”.

“Parliament will always promote the public interest and lend its voice to ordinary people,” he said.

Addressing MPs during the opening procedural sitting the prime minister stressed that close coordination was needed between the government and parliament.

“Though Egypt is in a ferocious war against terrorist groups,” said Ismail, “the government is determined to raise growth rates and address deep-rooted structural imbalances.”

Ismail said the government’s policy statement, delivered before parliament in March 2016, had been successfully implemented.

“The implementation of our programme has won the praise of international institutions. This would not have been possible without the cooperation of parliament which passed important legislation on investment and facilitating the issuing of licences for industrial construction,” said Ismail.

He told MPs his government was now determined to clear the backlog of draft laws necessary to implement the second stage of economic reform and planned to “refer draft legislation on social insurance, health insurance, trade unions, personal affairs litigation, and the rights of physically challenged citizens to parliament”.

The prime minister argued Egypt will not be able to move ahead in its economic reforms in the absence of greater stability or without engineering a reduction in the runaway population growth which “threatens to leave no surplus for future generations”.

“The president has ordered a comprehensive strategy to be put in place to overcome this major challenge which has crippled the country for decades. We have already worked on this strategy but we need the support of all state institutions, including parliament,” said Ismail.

Ismail’s statement came two days after a 30 September announcement that the number of Egyptians had reached 104.2 million. Of these 94.7 million live in Egypt and 9.4 million abroad.

Before addressing parliament on Monday Ismail held a press conference during which he said the government was not considering any cabinet reshuffle ahead of the new parliamentary session.

Before Ismail’s address the government sent MPs a detailed report — Egypt in Three Years — covering the period from July 2014, when President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi took office, to June 2017.

Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Omar Marawan told MPs the report documents how Egypt was able to overcome major challenges including chronic power cuts, a lack of foreign investment, low foreign exchange reserves and reduced tourist traffic.

“The report shows how life has changed in the last three years and lists the many projects being implemented in Egypt’s governorates,” said Marawan.

MPs held two procedural meetings on Tuesday to elect officers for the House’s 25 committees.

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