Parliament’s General Secretariat clarifies EGP 18m expenditures on cars

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Member of parliament Anwar Sadat issued a statement Tuesday accusing the parliament’s General Secretariat of lack of transparency on expenditures spent on the purchase of cars for the parliamentary speaker and his two deputies.

Sadat’s statement was the second after the General Secretariat of the Egyptian parliament issued a statement Monday in response to inquiries raised by Sadat Sunday regarding payments of millions of Egyptian pounds allocated from the parliament’s budget to purchase the cars.

Sadat had addressed a question to the parliamentary speaker regarding the EGP 18m expenditure on the cars, while highlighting that the costs were not included in the parliament’s budget plan for 2015/2016.

Sadat “oddly” wondered about the reasons to “burden” the parliament with such costs from which only three members will benefit, especially since the parliament has “a fleet of cars” purchased over the previous years, and argued that it seemed more reasonable to use them instead of buying new expensive cars, a statement issued by his press office read.

In numbers, Sadat compared the price of the three cars before and after the government’s decision to float the Egyptian pound in November 2016, stating that the cars’ current price reached EGP 13m each.

However, the secretariat said Monday that Sadat did not directly address them with such an inquiry, asserting their readiness to answer all questions. But on Tuesday, Sadat rejected the claims and asserted that ever since the parliament’s inauguration, he had not received a single response to his statements, with the exception for the one accepting his resignation as head of the Human Rights Committee.

The secretariat explained first that the parliamentary speaker needed an armoured vehicle for security reasons. Secondly, the cars were purchased before the current parliament was in place, clarifying that in the absence of a parliament, such decisions are taken by the cabinet.

“In December 2015, the Ministry of Planning allocated EGP 10m to the parliament’s budget, specifying EGP 4m of them to buy 25 cars, including two Mercedes cars for the parliament’s deputies and an EGP 6m armoured car for the parliamentary speaker,” the secretariat said in a statement published by state media.

The statement added that only 17 cars were purchased instead of 25. The Ministry of Defence provided the parliamentary speaker with an armoured vehicle at EUR 393,000. Given security threats consisting of targeting public officials in attacks, it was decided that the two Mercedes cars would also be substituted for armoured vehicles, so the Ministry of Planning allocated an additional EGP 12m to the parliament’s budget in February 2016. The secretariat further claimed that the two cars have not been delivered yet and that their costs would be reviewed by the parliament’s Internal Planning Committee.

The secretariat’s response triggered further contestation by Sadat who asked why the cars had not been delivered despite their costs being added to the parliament’s expenditure budget. He also said that the added costs amounted to EGP 22m while the secretariat’s statement accounted for lesser costs for the cars.

The secretariat’s statement said that Sadat was referred to the Disciplinary Committee over such accusations, while Sadat denied in press statements that the referral to the Disciplinary Committee was related to the recent claims he made.

In fact, Sadat was referred to investigation in November 2016 after a memorandum was submitted against him by Minister of Social Solidarity Ghada Waly, accusing him of leaking to foreign embassies in Egypt a copy of the NGO law before it was passed by the parliament.

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