FILE- Employees in the EGX following performance of the trading session on December 12, 2017
CAIRO – 2 August 2019: Many of the state institutions have recently denied a number of rumors on serious issues related to the national security, including firing state employees and the loss of some antiquities, according to a report issued by the Cabinet.
Laying off employees
Contacting the Ministry of Social Solidarity's Fund for Drug Control and Treatment of Addiction, the Cabinet's Media Center denied alleged intentions of the state to lay off 25 percent of the employees of the administrative apparatus after drug tests were conducted.
The fund said that the percentage of those who tested positive for banned drugs is not more than 2 percent, adding that they were referred to the administrative prosecution to take legal measures against them.
The Media Center denied news about the government's intention to increase the value added tax after contacting the Ministry of Finance.
The ministry completely denied the news, stressing that there is not any intention to increase VAT during the coming period.
It also affirmed the ministry's efforts to secure the steadiness of the values of taxes, including the value of VAT that amounts to 14 percent, without any new increase.
The ministry said that a committee was formed to review the VAT law, and solve some of the problems that have emerged during the actual implementation of the law.
A final version of a VAT draft law will be introduced to be discussed in a social dialogue after ending the problems in the original law that have emerged during the actual implementation of the law that was approved by the parliament in 2016.
Drinking treated wastewater?
The Ministry of Irrigation denied reports on the government's tendency to provide treated wastewater for drinking, when the Nile River level declines, stressing that it is completely untrue.
Since the construction of the Aswan Dam, reduction in the Nile River's levels is compensated from the strategic reservoir of Lake Nasser, to reach 55.5 billion cubic meters.
The ministry reassured the citizens that it would meet all their water needs, and appealed to them to rationalize water in light of the current relevant challenges. The ministry said it works very hard to optimize water management and achieve the highest water-use efficiency that reaches over 95% according to international estimates.
The ministry also affirmed the readiness of its emergency units and preparations for the flood season starting in August, to protect lives and properties.
Losing some antiquities?
The Ministry of Antiquities denied news claiming the loss of some artifacts during their transfer to the Grand Egyptian Museum.
The process of transferring artifacts is carried out under strict security procedures, and in accordance with the international safety and security standards, the ministry said.
The Ministry also denied rumors concerning intentions to sell 90 acres of Alexandria's Marina archaeological site to investors who look for establish tourist buildings on this land.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July last year warned Egyptians against fake news, clarifying that more than 21,000 rumors have been propagated over a period of three month. The president also asked people to be cautious of calls that inherently aim at the collapse of the Egyptian state.
In June this year, Ali Hosni, undersecretary of the General Directorate of Information and Relations at the Interior Ministry, said that nearly 4-6 million fake accounts and pages on Facebook are aiming at spreading rumors among Egyptians.
Concluding 2018, the Cabinet's media center issued an information report on rumors attempting to fail the state's constructive efforts throughout the year, revealing that education was the most targeted by rumors, obviously due to the radical changes it is undergoing under the new system.
Soliman Wahdan, deputy Parliament speaker, said in March, 2019, that he is working to introduce a draft to put an end to rumors issued by some people and groups to destabilize the Egyptian state.
He said that these "terrorist" groups assign a number of research centers to study rumors and spread them across the country.
"We need to issue an urgent legislation to face the information warfare the outlawed groups and individuals play with," Wahdan said in a statement.
He added that social media platforms and some media channels are used by terrorist groups with the aim of spreading chaos and inciting strife between the Egyptian people and their government.
The planned draft law will impose heavy penalties on people spreading rumors about the country's economic situation and military institutions, with the aim of destabilizing the state, he said, adding that in case rumors resulted in the death or injury of citizens, the violators will, according to the law, receive tougher punishment.
The draft law also calls for establishing a governmental body that is linked to the Egyptian Cabinet to spot rumors and issue statements to respond to them once they emerge and spread, according to Wahdan.
The new watchdog will also monitor the media channels that spread inaccurate information and contribute to spreading rumors, Wahdan added.
According to article no. 188 of the penal code, those who spread fake news, statements, or rumors, would be sentenced to one year in prison at most, and would have to pay a minimum of LE 5,000 ($286) and a maximum of LE 20,000 ($1,145) as a fine. They can also be punished by only one of these two penalties.
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