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Thursday, 16 May 2019

Egypt’s Cabinet approves new NGOs Act to replace contentious 2017 law

CABINET WATCH- Cabinet approves new NGOs Act: The Madbouly Cabinet approved at its weekly meeting a final draft of the proposed NGOs Act that will replace the controversial 2017 NGO law, according to a cabinet statement. The move came after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi directed the government to amend the contentious legislation during last year’s World Youth Forum. The 98-article bill is expected to scrap prison sentences for violations of the act and create a single body charged with supervising civil society groups, among other details announced last month following public consultations with several local and international NGOs.

What’s next? The bill will now make its way to the Council of State (Maglis El Dawla) for review before heading to the House of Representatives, where it will need to move through committee before going to the House General Assembly for a final vote.

Background: The NGO law passed in 2017 placed sharp restrictions on civil society and was roundly criticized by domestic and international NGOs as well as the global press. The government has been working on amendments to the law since the Supreme Constitutional Court judged one of its clauses unconstitutional in June 2018.

Other cabinet decisions taken at yesterday’s meeting:

  • STEM incentives: Issuing the executive regulations of a recently-approved law to provide incentives to encourage science, technology and innovation;
  • SEZ near Giza: Allocating a 124 feddan land plot to the General Authority for Investments (GAFI) to set up a customs-exempt special economic zone near Giza;
  • Smart card contract: Renewing for a year starting July a government contract with fintech companies including Smart Cards Applications and First to provide access to subsidized bread via smart cards;
  • Gilead MoU: Ratifying a MoU between the Health Ministry and pharma producer Gilead Sciences Ireland UC, which specializes in hepatitis C medicine.

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