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Monday, 20 November 2017

House Healthcare Committee signs off on Universal Healthcare Act

LEGISLATION WATCH- The House of Representatives’ Health Committee has given its approval to the Universal Healthcare Act — the government’s EGP 600 bn plan to expand quality government-sponsored healthcare coverage nationwide, Health Minister Ahmed Rady announced on Sunday, according to Al Shorouk. The bill, a key piece of social welfare policy for the Ismail cabinet, passed with minimal opposition, with most MPs objecting to the 15-year timeline to fully implement the act nationwide. Rady told the committee at a hearing yesterday that actuarial studies for the bill had projected that implementing the plan on a shorter timeline would lead to financial ruin. We assume that the bill will soon reach a plenary session of the House for a vote.

Financing and implications for business: As we noted last week, the bill, which will be managed by three regulators, would impose premiums for employers of 4% of each employee’s monthly salary, while employees will pay premiums of only 1% of their salary into the system. It will be partly funded through these premiums as well as fees imposed on private sector healthcare operators and a 10% sin tax on tobacco sales. The government has also been talking about rolling into the bill a mechanism of imposing price caps on private healthcare providers; prices are expected to be set early next year.

Absentee MPs delay voting on key legislation, again: Unconcerned that there is a country to be governed, absentee MPs have caused votes on notable bills in plenary sessions of the House to be delayed — the most important of these being the Youth Institutions Act, which bans political activity in public youth clubs; the ban on drones; and most importantly, the controversial Labor Unions Act, Al Ahram reports. The latter once again received condemnation from the Egyptian Federation of Independent Unions, which claims the law constricts collective bargaining activity, according to Al Mal.

What our illustrious representatives did manage to do, however, was to sign off on a EUR 290 mn loan agreement with the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) meant to fund the purchase of 100 new locomotives for the Egyptian National Railway, Al Masry Al Youm reports. A number of MPs objected to the loan agreement, pointing out that it doesn’t specify an interest rate. Some MPs also caviled that fleet upgrades were taking priority over infrastructure development (‘cause apparently fleets aren’t key components of infrastructure in their little world).

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