EPW Week in Brief – December 2, 2018 – December 8, 2018

12/11/2018 . By TIMEP

Summary

  • Following U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha’s statement condemning Egypt’s reprisals against housing activists whom she met with on a recent mission to the country, committees in the House of Representatives condemned Farha’s remarks. The Housing Committee dismissed Farha’s statement as politically charged, while the Human Rights Committee praised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a similar rebuking statement against Farha.
  • In light of Egypt hosting its inaugural defense expo, EDEX 2018, representatives met with visiting international officials and praised the event as an affirmation of Egypt’s military prowess. Speaker of the House Ali Abdel ‘Al, among other parliamentary officials, hosted Jean-Jacques Bridey, chairman of the French parliament’s defense committee, to discuss mutual security concerns.

Notable Developments

Parliament Reacts to U.N. Special Rapporteur Statement:

The Housing Committee and Human Rights Committee of Egypt’s House of Representatives issued separate statements condemning recent remarks by United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing Leilani Farha on the housing situation in Egypt. Farha released a statement Tuesday condemning Egypt for the forced eviction, home demolition, and arrest  of activists in reprisal for meeting with Farha during her visit to Egypt in late September and early October. The Housing Committee asserted that Farha’s statement was entirely politicized and ignored prominent developments about housing initiatives in Egypt. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Committee praised the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for its swift condemnation of Farha’s remarks in which the ministry lambasted what it described as fabricated lies by the special rapporteur.

Representatives Praise EDEX 2018:

Egypt hosted its first defense expo, EDEX 2018, which involved 373 defense companies from 41 countries as well as various international government officials. Jean-Jacques Bridey, chairman of the French parliament’s defense committee, met with Abdel ‘Al, Secretary-General of the House Ahmed Saad al-Din, Representative Ayman Abul Alaa, and Defense Committee Chairman Kamal Amer; the group discussed historical bilateral relations and strategic defense concerns in light of the defense expo. Representative Yehia Kedwani of the Defense Committee praised EDEX as an affirmation of Egypt’s commitment to military progress.

Other Developments

In Legislation:

The House agreed in principle to the government’s draft Public Shops Law. The law would require any shop to apply for a license from a licensing committee, which is to be established by the cabinet, before beginning operations, changing location, or changing business structure. Businesses that already complied with previous licensing regulations would have one year to comply with the new law and its licensing procedures. The licensing committee will possess sole jurisdiction to issue business licenses depending on each organization’s compliance with the law and their respective business model. The bill had previously been discussed during the third legislative session.

The House approved the government’s amendments to the Real Estate Tax Law. The amendment extends the Real Estate Authority’s time to complete data collection regarding property tax evaluation by a period of one year until December 2021, rather than the previous date of December 2020.

The House approved the government’s amendments to the Fine Arts Syndicate Law. The law stipulates a specific percentage of members required to attain quorum during syndicate meetings and outlines procedures for the syndicate to abide by during meetings if quorum is not achieved.

The House agreed in principle to the government’s amendments to the Anti-monopoly and Supply Affairs Law. The law imposes a fine ranging from 100,000 to 1 million Egyptian pounds for companies that distort sales numbers, supply quantities, and prices in regard to petroleum products and food distribution products.

Representative Shereen Farag submitted a bill to amend the Trade and Labor Union Law. Farag’s amendments focus on restoring protections to trade union activity that are currently restricted under Article 49 of the law. The amendments also stipulate that a trade union’s board of directors may decide to designate one or two members of the board to conduct trade union activity without reprisal, while instilling stricter measures to protect workers’ right to compensation.

Local Administration Committee Chairman Ahmed al-Sageeni stated that the draft Local Administration Law is intertwined with ministries including the Ministries of Finance, Transport, Housing, and Interior because of the complexity of the bill and its involvement with the local council elections. Deputy Speaker of the House al-Sayyid al-Sharif stated that the bill is ready for discussion and will be included in the agenda for an upcoming plenary session.

In Session:

Representative Ismail Nasr al-Din submitted an urgent statement to Abdel ‘Al denouncing the circulating video and images of a Danish couple who supposedly climbed the Khufu pyramid in Giza and filmed themselves committing a sexual act. Nasr al-Din added that incidents like these, which have previously occurred, contribute to the degradation of Egyptian culture and responsible authorities must prevent them.

Representative Bassam Felayfil of the Suggestions and Complaints Committee submitted a request to hold a general discussion on the government’s low-income housing policy and methods of expanding this system.

Local Administration Committee formed a parliamentary subcommittee headed by Representative Yasser al-Assiuti to investigate infringements on Endowment Authority’s land and property in East Shubra al-Kheima; the subcommittee is expected to document and present its findings to parliament. Similarly, Representative Sayyid Hamad’s briefing request on Endowment Authority land violations accuses the authority of mismanagement of public funds.

In News and Statements:

Deputy Speaker of the House Soleiman Wahdan and Egyptian Ambassador to Morocco Ashraf Ibrahim participated Thursday in the Inter-Parliamentary Union’s meeting on migration, which was held in Morocco and attended by 220 officials from 50 countries.

Representative Zaynab Ali Salam of the Tourism Committee claimed that civil society organizations in Egypt overlook specific regions of the country, such as the Nile Delta, in their operations.

Parliamentary Spokesman Salah Hassiballah asserted that Egypt remains committed to uncovering the truth in the investigation of the death of Italian PhD student Giulio Regeni.

Members of the African Affairs Committee participated in the 2018 Investment Forum in Sharm el-Sheikh; 14 other African countries sent delegations to the conference.

African Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan hosted Djibouti’s ambassador to Egypt, Mohamed Zhr Hrsy, to discuss bilateral relations and historical challenges that each country has encountered.

The Nation’s Future Party hosted a job recruitment forum Saturday to combat youth unemployment. The forum was titled Yes to Work, No to Unemployment.

Local Administration Committee Chairman Ahmed al-Sageeni stated that Abdel ‘Al has improved the relationship between the House and government officials in terms of attending parliamentary sessions upon request.

Representative Omar Hamroush of the Religious Affairs Committee called for a media campaign to address assertions promulgated by Salafist individuals and organizations and refute them using official religious doctrine recognized by the state.

Representative Muhammad Badrawi of the Economic Affairs Committee stated that Egypt has been operating at a trade deficit over the past 10 months, importing $57 billion worth of products while only exporting $20 billion worth of commodities.

Wafd Party Spokesman Yasser al-Hudeibi announced that Chairman Bahaa Abu Shoqa postponed the elections for the party’s qualitative committees until after the party’s centennial celebration March 9.

Former Wafd Party president al-Sayyid al-Badawi announced that he will freeze his activities within the organization pending the current investigation into the Wafd Party council’s internal elections and his alleged role in collaborating with members of the party who were recently expelled.

African Affairs Committee Chairman Tariq Radwan hosted South Sudanese Ambassador to Egypt Joseph Moumou; the two officials spoke about issues of mutual concern and bilateral relations between their countries in areas such as transportation concerns and tourism.

Radwan also hosted Eritrean Ambassador to Egypt Fasil Gebreselassie Tekla to discuss tourism, Eritrean education endeavors in Egypt, bilateral relations, and joint economic cooperation.

The Parliamentary Training Institute addressed the Omani Shura Council on the relationship between the legislature and media institutions.

The Foreign Affairs Committee hosted Australian Ambassador to Egypt Glenn Miles to discuss relations between the two countries, Australian economic ventures in Egypt, and illegal migration.

The Local Administration Committee hosted Carlos Enciso, head of the Uruguayan administrative district of Florida; the officials discussed trade ventures and administrative concerns.

Abdel ‘Al hosted Norwegian Ambassador to Egypt Sten Arne Rosnes and Iraqi Ambassador to Egypt Muhammad Hadi Ali al-Sadr. Abdel ‘Al spoke about Egypt’s reform measures with Rosnes and about the historic relations between Egypt and Iraq during the meeting with Sadr.

Abdel ‘Al hosted Saudi Chairman of the Egyptian-Saudi Parliamentary Friendship Council Assaf bin Salam Abu Thenin to discuss joint development projects, security in the region, and Egyptian support for Saudi leadership.

Looking Ahead

  • The Manpower Committee will hold three separate meetings next week, including one with Minister of the Public Enterprise Sector Hesham Tawfiq, to discuss the situation for workers operating in various failing companies nationwide.
  • The Agriculture Committee will meet next week to discuss the price of wheat for consumers based on the supply of the product and the rising costs required to cultivate the crop.
  • The Social Solidarity Committee will discuss a draft law next week submitted by one of its members, Representative Ayman Abul Alaa, that would establish a national commission for social solidarity.
  • The Arab Affairs Committee will convene for five meetings next week to discuss topics including Syria, Egyptian-Emirati relations, economic hardships for Egyptian expatriates, communities of Egyptian expatriates residing together, and the Egyptian who was assaulted in Kuwait.
  • Deputy Speaker of the House al-Sayyid al-Sharif stated that the committee formed to discuss President Abdel-Fattah El Sisi’s objections to the Clinical Trials Law will convene for the first time next week.