x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Child protection, foreign ownership and teaching standards on UAE's horizon

FNC looks ahead, prepares to discuss some bills before session resumes in the autumn.

FNC member Aisha al Yanahi (Sharjah) discusses a point with her fellow member from Sharjah Sheikha Al Owais, right, during an FNC session in April. Silvia Razgova / The National
FNC member Aisha al Yanahi (Sharjah) discusses a point with her fellow member from Sharjah Sheikha Al Owais, right, during an FNC session in April. Silvia Razgova / The National

ABU DHABI // Bills and public debates are already on the FNC's autumn agenda, members have said.

Although the current term has ended, several bills completed by the FNC's committees await public debate.

"Next year there will be many laws and topics," said Dr Mohammed Al Mazroui, the council's secretary general. "We have the Emiratisation topic, pensions, around six in total. As sessions will be scheduled, the council is expected to complete its work on many of them."

One of the most pressing issues is Wadeema's Law, named after an eight-year-old girl who was tortured and killed by her father. It is the country's first child-protection legislation.

Although members were ready to debate the proposed law two weeks ago with the Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Al Roumi, she was not able to attend the session.

Another law eagerly awaited by many is the Investment Law.

After a much-anticipated clause in the Commercial Companies Law allowing majority foreign ownership was removed, the Minister of Economy, Sultan Al Mansouri, said the wording would be added to the Investment Law, and would include further clarification. The council will still have the final say over whether to keep the clause or not.

Other topics to be discussed include policies of the federal demographic council, the state of teaching in the country, Central Bank policies, the Ministry of Social Affairs' policy of monitoring co-ops, and the labour market.

Dr Al Mazroui said with a fixed agenda of work, members would have a chance to prepare for sessions.

Dr Mona Al Bahar (Dubai) anticipates greater interaction next year between members and ministers. "I expect more questions to be asked and more discussions to be held," she said.

Ali Al Nuaimi (Ajman) said he was "optimistic". "Me, myself, I want to be positive," he said. "I feel if it's not the same as the last year, it will be better."

Ahmad Aahli (Dubai) agreed. "Next term will be dynamic and more accomplished, and that is because the parliamentary experience of members would have built up in a larger and deeper way," he said. "I think on the achievement and interaction level, there will be an improvement, and on the level of issues that will be raised to different committees."

Work on the human-rights committee, which elected Noura Al Kaabi (Abu Dhabi) as the deputy head, will also step up a gear next year, with meetings scheduled to begin during the summer break time.

"There will be no public session, but the committees are allowed to meet," said Ali Jassim (UAQ), head of the committee. "After Ramadan we will meet and structure the committee's work, and start with holding public lectures to inform people of their human rights."

After the committee was formed this term, members held only one meeting.

osalem@thenational.ae

* Additional reporting from Ayesha Al Khoori