Top News: Egypt Issues New Law Liberalizing Electricity Market

A new legislation liberalizing Egypt’s electricity market and encouraging private sector investment in the market was published in the official gazette on Monday. The electricity law, issued by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Sunday, allows the state to give up management of the electricity sector’s public utilities. The state would only be responsible for organizing and observing the electricity sector. The bylaws of the new legislation will be issued within six months, the Electricity Ministry said in a statement on Monday. Electricity utilities would then be given six months to legalize their status as per the new legislation. The new law resolves the issue of subsidizing electricity and provides a new mechanism that allows private investors to profit even when abiding by subsidized prices. The law also separates the Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency from the Electricity Ministry, making it an independent body tasked with regulating the market. [Aswat Masriya, 7/13/2015]


Minister: No party will be harmed by application of new Civil Service Law
No party would be harmed by the application of the Civil Service Law, said Finance Minister Hany Qadry Dimian on Monday. An amendment of the basic and variable payments in the new law will result in an increased value of the payroll tax, but the difference will be covered by the public treasury, Dimian explained. During an iftar organized by the union of customs and tax workers, the minister said that the public treasury can no longer afford the rewards and bonuses prescribed in the old law for workers at the administrative system, which totals more than 6 million employees. He pointed out that the previous bonuses prescribed in the laws will change and will become a ratio estimated in comparison to the basic wage. He added the step aims to alleviate the escalating wage bill which increased from EGP 83 billion in 2009/2010 to about EGP 218 billion in the 2015/2016. [Egypt Independent, 7/14/2015]  

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  • Mahlab cancels Eid al-Fitr vacation for transportation workers | Cairo Post

Police officer who shot lawyer detained four days
The police officer who shot a lawyer in a court is being held in detention for four days, pending investigation, after appearing before the prosecution late Saturday. The officer is being charged with assaulting a lawyer, and conspiring to kill him, spokesman for the Lawyers Syndicate Sherif Anany said. Anany said that the officer told the prosecution that he heard a loud noise and saw someone running, and so began to fire in the direction of the running. Anany also added that the injured lawyer, Mohamed al-Gamal, is in stable condition. He is expected to appear before the prosecution for his testimony on Monday or Tuesday. Meanwhile, in the second reported assault by police officers against lawyers in less than two days, a police officer on Monday allegedly smacked a lawyer in an Alexandria court with handcuffs during a verbal dispute over the officer’s conduct towards colleagues. [DNE, 7/13/2015]

Editor-in-chief of alleged pro-Brotherhood website referred to criminal trial
Giza prosecutors referred on Monday the Editor-in-Chief of an alleged pro-Muslim Brotherhood website to criminal trial for charges of “disseminating false news” and “instigating against the government.” The referral of Mohamed Hassan, chief editor of Misr Alaan, the website of a Turkey-based satellite channel with the same name, came after five months of investigation. He is now facing charges of reporting false news designed to disrupt public security, insulting the president, and broadcasting fabricated records of phone call allegedly made by army officials. Investigators say that Hassan, now in police custody, has received finances from Gulf-based Muslim Brotherhood figures in return for his activity. [Egypt Independent, 7/13/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Allegations of torture of Shura Council case prisoners | DNE
  • Five alleged Muslim Brotherhood members arrested | DNE
  • Al-Nahda Square sit-in trial postponed | DNE

Egypt allocates EGP 5 billion for new administrative capital
The Egyptian government has allocated EGP 5 billion EGP ($638.8 million) for the Administrative Capital project in its new budget, Minister of Housing Mostafa Madbouly said on Monday. Madbouly added that a “new step” in the project will be announced soon. He also said that more than five Arab and Egyptian companies have submitted requests to contribute to the project and that negotiations are ongoing with an Emirati company regarding the first stage of the project. On June 9, Madbouly acknowledged “complications” in contract negotiations with the investment fund that is expected to lead development of the new capital. [Cairo Post, 7/14/2015]

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Ministry of endowments calls on imams to use unified sermon for Eid al-Fitr
The head of the the ministry of endowment’s religious department, Mohamed Abdel Razek, has warned against using Eid al-Fitr prayers for commenting on Egypt’s current political situation. Razek urged imams to stick to the unified sermon the ministry posted on its website. The ministry has also banned influential Salafi preachers Mohamed Hassan and Mohamed Hussein Yakoub from preaching during the Eid prayer on Friday morning. The ministry said on Monday the two preachers were not licensed to deliver sermons, adding that Sheikh Yasser Borhamy, the Deputy Head of the Salafi Call, was the only figure from the organization allowed to speak publicly. Younis Makhyoun, the head of the Salafi Call’s political arm, Nour Party, is also unlicensed. [Egypt Independent, 7/14/2015]

Director of government’s foreign media monitor speaks out
The new government bureau, the State Information Service’s recently-launched FactCheckEgypt, tasked with following foreign media reports will work on countering misinformation regarding the situation in Egypt, rather than imposing oversight on foreign reporters, its head, Ayman Wallash, said Monday. He noted that the office’s staff are currently on a free training organized by iMediaEthics, a US non-government organization focused on media ethics. Wallash stressed that the creation of the new body has nothing to do with the controversial anti-terrorism law, which is still pending presidential approval. “We will track all misinformation in world media reports about Egypt and post it on the website bearing the bureau’s name. We will also list those who abide by the corrections and those who do not,” Wallash said. “That will have an impact on various foreign media outlets, which adopt ethical codes and care for their reputation and credibility,” he added. According to Wallash, the office staff is currently working on a report about the misinformation by foreign media with regard to the deadly attacks on the army in North Sinai earlier this month. He said the report would prove that foreign media relied on unidentified sources. [Egypt Independent, 7/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt: Country of remarkable, yet jailed, women | DNE
  • Video: Egyptians protest transporting Sekhemka out of UK | Cairo Post
  • ‘I Saw Harassment’ encourages women to enjoy Eid celebrations outdoors | DNE

Two bombs defused at hotel in Giza
Police bomb squads defused Tuesday two improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the Haram district of Giza, according to state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper. Security forces were notified of suspicious packages outside the hotel, and quickly sent bomb squads to inspect them. The forces cordoned off the area before discovering the IEDs and successfully defusing them. The Head of Giza security ordered a report to be filed to the prosecution to investigate the incident. [DNE, 7/14/2015]  

Also of Interest

  • Six suspects arrested in North Sinai security campaign | SIS
  • High voltage pylon collapses in Fayoum in bomb attack | Cairo Post

House, Senate clash over aid to Egypt
The US Senate wants to keep in place restrictions on military aid to Egypt, setting up a clash with Cairo’s backers in the House. The Senate foreign aid bill would require Secretary of State John Kerry to certify Egypt’s progress on several human rights and democracy metrics before releasing $1.3 billion in annual military aid, a provision that is missing from the House bill. The Senate bill, unlike the House version, also continues to withhold part of the yearly $150,000 in economic assistance to Egypt in order to pay for the legal bills of workers of nongovernmental organizations sentenced in connection with US-backed efforts to promote democracy in the country. Both chambers agreed in December’s spending compromise to give Kerry the power to waive certification of Egypt’s progress on human rights if those standards can’t be met and keeping the aid flowing is deemed to be in America’s national security interest. The new House bill would do away with that certification, while the Senate keeps it in place — along with a requirement that the State Department, as a condition for using its waiver authority, explain in detail how Egypt is failing to meet congressional standards. The House and Senate are also divided over whether to continue docking economic assistance for the costs associated with the arrest and trial of forty-three nongovernmental organization workers—including sixteen Americans—in 2011-13. [Al-Monitor, 7/14/2015]

Also of Interest

  • Egypt’s Sisi and Italian Foreign Minister vow to continue cooperation against terrorism | Ahram Online, Cairo Post  
  • Shoukry expresses condolences of Egyptian people at Prince Saud’s funeral | DNE
  • Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia sign declaration on scientific research | Egypt Independent
  • Egypt’s diplomacy briefs international community on new Suez canal: FM | SIS
  • Egypt receives Palestinian figures in bid to speed Gaza reconstruction | Aswat Masriya