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Thursday, 16 November 2017

LEGISLATION WATCH- Cabinet approves amendments to Unified Building Code, final draft of Social Welfare Act at its weekly meeting

LEGISLATION WATCH- The Ismail Cabinet approved amendments to the Unified Building Code during its weekly meeting yesterday and referred the bill to the Council of State (Maglis Al Dawla) for review, according to an official statement. The amendments focus on facilitating the process of issuing licenses, tightening safety codes, and better enforcement of the legislation. The bill will also establish a supreme council for urban planning and development that will be mandated with setting policy nationwide.

The final draft of the Social Welfare Act also received Cabinet’s stamp of approval yesterday. It will go to the House of Representatives for review at the beginning of next week, unidentified government sources tell Al Borsa. The draft law sets a minimum pension rate, will index annual pension increases to inflation, and will establish a new pensions fund. According to the source, the government wants to finalize all procedures for the legislation by the end of March 2018 and bring it into effect before the start of the new fiscal year in July.

The ministers also discussed a report from the Irrigation Minister on the latest developments in the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam negotiations. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry also outlined the political dimensions of the situation.

Other key decisions taken during yesterday’s meeting include:

  • Approving a EGP 2.8 bn direct order agreement with pharma companies producing cancer treatment medications;
  • Signing off on a KWD 200,000 grant from the Arab Fund for Social and Economic Development to finance technical and economic feasibility studies for the 100 feddans project;
  • Ratifying a presidential decree to extend the borders of Al Shorouk City to use the additional land for residential development projects;
  • Approving and sent to the Council of State a draft law to restructure the National Council of Women;
  • Approving amendments to the Prisons Organization Law that will allow prisoners to be eligible for parole after completing half of their prison sentence, instead of two-thirds;
  • Agreeing to set up a committee headed by the Military Production Ministry to manage negotiations for the establishment of a factory to produce solar panels from silica sand.

Separately, Transport Minister Hisham Arafat signed a USD 150 mn agreement with Thales Spain to supply an automated railway signaling system, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The agreement will be funded through a World Bank loan carrying an interest rate of less than 1%, Arafat told reporters after the signing ceremony. The new signaling system will be used for the 180 km Assiut-Naga Hamady rail line and will allow trains to travel at 160 km/hr, up from 120 km/hr currently, Cabinet said in a statement. The system will take three years to be installed.

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