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Specialized National Councils: Towards the Enhancement of ıPublic Policy Decisions
No. 11ı
ı8 November 2001ı
Activities of the Forum were inaugurated on Thursday 8 November ıı2001 at 4 pm by Dr. Atef Sidky, Supervisor General of the Specialized ıNational Councils, Dr. Kamal El Menoufi, Dean of FEPS and Dr. ıSalwa Sharaawi, PARC Director. The inaugural ceremony was also ıattended by members of the Specialized National Councils in addition ıto a group of experts. ı
Dr. Salwa Sharaawi took the lead by extending her thanks to ıparticipants in the Forum, which, she explained, is concerned with ıpublic policies in Egypt that are of interest to Egyptians and are at the ısame time on top of the list of priorities of the Egyptian government. ıShe added that the Forum is a platform for a limited number of ırepresentatives from the government, opposition parties, NGOs, ıexperts and competent individuals. ı
In his speech, Dr. Kamal El Menoufi said that for the first time the role ıof the Specialized National Councils receives the attention of FEPS ıacademic community, asserting that there are two main sets of ıopinions about the Specialized Councils. The first considers them a ıbranch of the executive power, according to the Constitution, and the ısecond regards them as a legislative organ. ı
Dr. Al Sayed Ghanem , Professor of Political Science who had drafted ıthe meeting's concept paper entitled “Specialized National Councils: ıTowards the Enhancement of Public Policy Decisions”, began his ıpresentation by summing up the dilemma of consultative bodies in the ıfollowing statement: “There is no doubt that we know what needs to ıbe done, but not necessarily how to do it”. His paper addressed four ımain issues: ı
ı1. System of public policy, area of consultation and when consultation ıis offered.
ı2.Variety of decisions supported by the Specialized National Councils ıand if they can indeed be considered public policy decisions
ı3.Types of decisions offered by the Specialized Councils
ı4.Ability of Specialized Council to undertake the tasks assigned to ıthem
Dr. Atef Sidky, Supervisor General of the Specialized Councils said ıthe Councils differ according to the social, cultural, political and legal ıcontext of each society. Although there are similar organizations in ıother countries such as France and Italy , they carry different names ıand are guided by different principles. They may even play a different ırole. In Egypt , it was agreed to grant the Specialized Councils a ıconsultative role, as an organ affiliated to the President that assists ıhim in drawing long term policies, and addressing urgent political, ıeconomic or social problems. He asserted that 90 percent of the ıstudies are concerned with the future in light of the present situation. ıThe Specialized Council have been operating since 1974. If their role ıhad been limited to describing reality, they would have been futile and ıwould have disappeared a long time ago. However, this is clearly not ıthe case according to the reports issued by Councils. He summarized ıthe main problem facing the Councils in the lack of coordination ıbetween the organs that need advice on one hand, and the Councils ıon the other. ı
Following are some of main points of discussion at the meeting: ı
ı-The role played by the Specialized Councils: Participants asserted ıthat the role is to reinforce public policies by presenting alternatives ıand estimating their costs/returns. They emphasized the need to have ıthorough reports and recommendations from the Councils in the ıfuture. They reiterated that competent ministers invited to attend ıCouncils' meetings should do so, and finally asserted their keenness ıto have the Councils' present enforceable solutions that are ıacceptable by the executives. ı
Participants outlined the challenges facing the Councils as ıfollows: ı
Secretariat General: Despite available resources and skills, there is no ıgenuine research body that would assist in performing tasks ı
Formation: Young people are not adequately represented in the ıCouncils; there is no time limit for Councils' membership and selection ıof members takes place on personal and not institutional basis. ı
Specialization: The opinions of the Councils are consultative and not ıobligatory. Institutional links with the executive bodies are weak; public ıopinion agencies are not represented in the Councils and relationships ı
ı•ı For more information on the publication, click here.ı
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