Egyptian Parliament - Press
CAIRO – 23 April 2018: Egypt’s Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal commented Monday on the decision to award photojournalist Mahmoud Abu Zeid, known as "Shawkan", the 2018 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on April 23, by saying that UNESCO shouldn’t be involved in any political matters, as its major interests should remain in culture.
Abdel Aal added in a short speech during Parliament’s session Monday that Shawkan is still on trail, and it is not accepted for such an international organization to grant the Press Freedom prize to someone who is still facing criminal charges. “These political stances are backed by specific governments known with their support to terrorism. This will never be accepted by Egypt’s Parliament, especially that Egypt has been a UNESCO member since 1945,” Abdel Aal stated.
Chairman of Parliament’s Human Rights Committee, Alaa Abed, also denounced the selection of Shawkan as well, affirming that there is a wealth of criminal evidence against Shawkan that proves that he cooperated with international organizations working against Egypt, and sent them photos from the Rabaa dispersal representing things contrary to the truth.
Parliament Speaker Abdel Aal said that there is no room for concerns regarding the participation of foreign partners in Egyptian investments or in the private sector, affirming that these concerns are no longer appropriate given the existence of balanced legislation that respects the private and public sectors.
Dr. Abdel Aal’s comments came during the plenary session on Sunday, during which Parliament discussed the amendments to National Authority for Tunnels Law. The Speaker addressed concerns regarding the presence of foreign partners in governmental projects, pointing out that although Egypt has had bad experiences in the past, this is no longer the case.
He further pointed out that the Egypt needs the private sector in order to continue to develop and advance. In support of his argument, Abdel Aal gave the example of a developed European country that had previously embraced this way by opening up to foreign investments.
This country, according to Abdel Aal has become very successful and has high interests in Africa now. “Partnerships between the private sector and foreign partners are no longer worrisome,” Abdel Aal stated.
During the Plenary session, Parliament a bill submitted by the government to amend some provisions of Law No. 113 of 1983 on the establishment of the National Authority for Tunnels.
The new Local Administration Law was drafted professionally and scientifically, said Parliament Speaker Abdel Aal Monday.
Abdel Aal spoke well of the new Local Administration Law, saying that it has been professionally drafted and takes into consideration the scientific bases in the development of local units, especially as they represent a major problem in the administration in Egypt. The Speaker said during the morning plenary session, during the discussion of the law on the protection of antiquities, that the local units chained the work and administration in Egypt, pointing out that due to their constant delay of the work, cancelling them and finding an alternative mechanism to solve disputed would be better.
Passed this afternoon:
Parliament approves a draft law to amend Agriculture Law to increase water efficiency, one of the Egyptian National Security’s priorities. Parliament approved on Sunday the government-drafted law to amend some provisions in Agriculture Law No. 53 of 1966. During the plenary session attended by the ministers of water resources and irrigation and agriculture, a plan to fairly distribute available water amongst agricultural crops was reviewed.
Article 1 in the Agriculture Law refers that the minister of agriculture shall determine the areas to cultivate certain agriculture crops and bans other crops in certain areas. Hence, the draft law to amend Agriculture Law stipulates that the minister of agriculture in the coordination with the minister of irrigation shall issue a ministerial decree to ban the cultivation of some crops in certain areas that have low amounts of water to rationalize water usage.
In the same context, the government agreed on amending Article 101, which stipulates those who violate the ministerial decrees issued to implement Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4 in the Agriculture Law shall be punished with a fine not less than LE 20,000 and maximum LE 50,000.
According to the amended article, those who violate Articles 1, 2, 3 and 4 shall be punished by imprisonment for a period that does not exceed six months and a fine no less than LE 3,000 and no more than LE 20,000.
Parliament approved Monday the punishment of those who hustle tourists visiting archaeological sites and museums with a fine ranging between LE 3,000 and LE 10,000. Hustling, as per Members of Parliament, is defined as pushing oneself onto visitors with the intention of begging, promoting a product, offering or selling a good or a service for oneself or others.
According to MP Ehab El-Tamawy, the exposure of tourists to hustlers whilst visiting archaeological areas needs to be deterred, as it is harmful to the national economy. The impact of these actions are so severe, according to El-Tamawy, that he argues that these crimes should be punished by imprisonment, not fines alone, an argument that Minister of Antiquities Khaled Anani agrees with. In similar vein, House Speaker Abdel Aal argued that there is a need for punishment to change the perception that these actions are acceptable and to ensure a positive societal change away from these actions.
Parliament passed Wedneday the draft social housing law in its entirety with the postponement of its final approval, for lack of quorum. The Speaker of the House of Representatives stated the Egyptian Constitution’s stipulation of the right of citizens to obtain suitable housing, highlighting the importance to ensure this right is protected.
According to the new law, a Social Housing Fund will be established affiliated with the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities. The fund will be considered a public service authority with several official offices in all of the country’s governorates. The fund, according to the new law, will be responsible for providing low-income housing units in the areas that will be selected by the government. The government is expected to issue another detailed law following the final approval explaining the needed criteria and conditions for applying to have these housing units. The law will ban each family from having more than just one unit.
The law aims at financing, managing, constructing, selling and renting housing units and supporting the mortgage finance activity for limited and middle-income citizens. This law comes in line with the state’s plan to ensure adequate housing for citizens, eliminate slum areas and provide housing units and plots at affordable prices for low- and middle-income citizens.
Parliament approves a draft law to amend the Protection of Antiquities Law No. 117 of 1983 on the protection of monuments during the plenary session. The bull defines monumental buildings as all those registered under decisions and orders aligned with this law or those that are registered in accordance with the provisions of this law.
The bill allows the Supreme Council of Antiquities to adjust the situation of tenants living in or having business in archaeological sites via terminating their rent contract within one year from the date of the renovation or restoration decision, provided they are given alternative houses or shop spaces, and so on, and by granting them fair compensation. The law also stated that any businesses or shops operating in archaeological sites must abide by the regulations outlines in this law.
On the table:
Members of Parliament’s majority “Support Egypt” coalition discussed with Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Aal on Sunday the possibility of merging all political parties of the coalition into a unified party. In an interview with Egypt Today, MP Ali Abdel Wanis, member of the coalition, said that the idea aims at emulating parliaments around the world by forming a party that represents a political backer of the state. Abdel Wanis added that merging parties of the coalition will help prevent contradictory opinions in case a certain party holds an opinion concerning an issue that is different from that of the leadership of the coalition.