The vote on the amendment to the media law has been indefinitely postponed until the House of Representatives confers on the state budget deficit, Media and Culture Committee Head Osama Heikal told Daily News Egypt.
“At the moment, the house is prioritising the budget deficit, and if the debate carries on until tomorrow, the vote on the amendment [to the Press Law] will be postponed—potentially until after Eid but we cannot be sure,” Heikal said.
The projected state budget deficit for the fiscal year (FY) 2015-2016 is 11.5%, and it is expected to be reduced to 9.8% the following year.
The bill on the floor would give the president oversight on the reformation of the Supreme Press Council (SPC), in accordance with Article 68 of the 1996 Press Regulation Law.
The SPC oversees the appointments of incoming editors-in-chief of state-run newspapers, and with presidential administration over the council some fear this could compromise the independence of these publications.
“If the current executive guarantees their independence, there’s no telling that future executives will be the same,” said Salah Eissa, general secretary of the SPC.
However, Heikal had dismissed these fears earlier and said that this amendment is purely administrative.
“The SPC has made a number of choices leading to a failure in solving the problems and addressing the concerns of several institutions under its auspices,” Heikal said.
Meanwhile, Eissa maintained that the amendment is unconstitutional and urged President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi to expedite the vote on the Unified Media Law, the draft of which is currently being revised by the State Council.
Member of parliament Mostafa Bakri proposed the amendment to the parliament’s Media and Culture Committee earlier this month and was backed by 324 MPs.