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Monday, 8 May 2017

House postpones vote on 10% social welfare raise over Article 5

In clash with cabinet, House postpones vote on 10% hardship raise for state employees not covered under theCivil Service Act: After delaying a final vote multiple times, the House of Representatives decided yesterday to push the vote to today after conflict between the government and MPs over the size of the raises and how they’ll be paid for, Al Shorouk reports.

What’s really at stake? MPs want to give a raise as a percentage of bureaucrats’ base salary, while Cabinet is allocating a far smaller sum by giving each person a raise increment in a specific EGP amount. The formula MPs want to use would add EGP 18 bn in new expenses that state coffers cannot afford, Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday — and that’s EGP 18 bn that the House will be constitutionally required to find funding for if it takes the easy way out and just strikes Article 5 from the bill.

Ismail wades in: Prime Minister Sherif Ismail told the press yesterday that passing the legislation without Article 5 would result in pay equity issues between bureaucrats who fall under the Civil Service Act and those who do not — and hammer the state’s budget deficit.

Could the government pull the bill?? Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Omar Marwan said cabinet will do just that if the House insists on scrapping Article 5. Marwan suggests it could then be reintroduced if the state can arrange for the necessary funding, according to Ahram Gate. Meanwhile, House Manpower Committee chairman Mohamed Wahab said he is not particularly concerned with the final decision on Article 5, and that the priority should be passing the bill before Ramadan in order to hand out the raises before the holy month.

What’s all this about “Article 5” in the domestic press? That’s the article that stipulates how the raises will be calculated. Reports in the domestic press suggest the House had decided to remove the article from the bill during discussions last week, sparking a conflict with the government.

What’s next? House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal sided with Cabinet and tried to call a vote yesterday, prompting some MPs to raise a stink, chanting that only a minority of MPs were in agreement. Abdel Aal postponed the vote by 24 hours to give time to reach a consensus.

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