Squabbles in parliament over budget, armaments

A parliamentary meeting on Monday saw two heated confrontations: one between the Central Auditing Organization (CAO) and the government over social security funds; the other between opposition and ruling party MPs over the president’s right to take unilateral decisions on military armament and deals without seeking parliamentary approval.

At the meeting, CAO President Gawdat el-Malt declared that the government had violated the law by listing LE24.3 billion in social security and pension funds as "revenue" in the state budget.

Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali said that the government had merely applied the law in a "practical way. But no citizen will lose their pension as a result of the move," he assured MPs.

"Both views are correct," asserted Budget Committee Chairman and ruling party stalwart Ahmed Ezz, to which House Speaker Fathi Sorour replied: "I don’t want to preside over a council that is inaccurate. If el-Malt is correct, I will put his remarks before a vote."

Later in the meeting, the ruling party’s parliamentary majority approved an extension of Law 49 of 1974, which grants the president the right to make unilateral decisions on military armament without seeking prior approval from parliament.

When Muslim Brotherhood and opposition MPs objected to the law’s extension, Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Moufid Shehab told them that "providing for the needs of our armed forces must be done in secrecy."

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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