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Tuesday, 17 July 2018

House signs off on several law

LEGISLATION WATCH- House signs off on several laws, including Sovereign Wealth Fund Act and the Press and Media Act: The House of Representatives’ general assembly signed off yesterday on the law establishing Egypt’s EGP 200 bn sovereign wealth fund, Al Mal reports. The law gives the fund complete financial independence and relieves it from paying taxes on transactions with subsidiary funds and affiliates, in addition to clarifying what the state would consider an under-utilized asset. The executive regulations for the law should be issued within 60 days of it being published in the Official Gazette.

The general assembly also approved the three laws that make up the second part of the Press and Media Act, according to Al Shorouk. Representatives had approved the bills on Sunday but postponed their vote due to lack of quorum. Their vote came after the draft laws, which were rejected by the Press Syndicate, were amended to reflect comments by the Council of State (Maglis Al Dawla), which suggested that several of their articles were unconstitutional and infringed on press freedom.

A law that shields senior military officials from prosecution without permission from the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces also received a nod from the House today. The law “could make senior military officers immune from future prosecution tied to violence which followed the 2013 ouster of Islamist president Mohammed Morsi,” Reuters says.

The House general assembly approved the final draft of the Public Contracts Act (previously known as the Tenders and Auctions Act), Ahram Gate reports. Parliamentary Speaker Ali Abdel Aal decided to refer the legislation to the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) for a second review after the House Budget Committee had amended the bill to reflect the name change. The legislation aims to decentralize and streamline tender procedures.

Want to become an Egyptian quick? Got EGP 7 mn? Also approved a yesterday was a law that would grant foreign residents Egyptian citizenship in exchange for an EGP 7 mn deposit (or its foreign currency equivalent of c. USD 391,000) which is meant to help spur foreign investment. Bloomberg is noting criticisms of the law that it panders to business.

The general assembly also approved amendments to the income tax code that would set a 2.5% tax on on real estate sales.

Parliament also gave its final approval to the Foreign Campuses Act, which sets the rules for foreign universities opening campuses in Egypt, according to Ahram Gate.

Other items on the House agenda include:

  • House reps. have drafted legislation on connecting homes to the national natural gas grid, Al Shorouk reports. If approved, the bill would see the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) add the cost of gas utility installation to the price of any piece of land being sold.
  • The House is likely to defer to the next legislative term discussions over Egypt’s version of the Freedom of Information Act, and another that would amend the guidelines for electing the board of the Federation of Industries.

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