CAIRO: The Public Funds General Prosecutor started an investigation into corruption by MPs in exploiting public funds to gain access to the health ministry’s free medical treatment program.
Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud had referred the case to the Public Funds General Prosecutor last week.
The investigation will entail the interrogation of a number of employees at the Administrative Control Authority, the Ministry of Health and the Central Auditing Agency.
The investigation was triggered by reports accusing members of the People’s Assembly and the Shoura Council of facilitating the approval of millions of pounds in medical bills for patients who did not fit the criteria to be eligible for the free medical care or were covered by other medical care funds.
So far the prosecution has found that 20 employees at the Ministry of Health are involved in approving false applications after being promised jobs at public agencies for their relatives by MPs in return.
Deputy Minister of Health Hisham Shiha clarified that citizens who enjoy health insurance and medical care by public and private authorities are not eligible to receive free treatment funded by the state.
In order for a citizen to apply for state-funded medical care they need a medical report from a public hospital along with their social security ID to ensure that they do not benefit from other insurance programs.
Shiha pointed that in 2009 the Ministry of Health provided medical care to 2 million citizens at a cost of approximately LE 3 billion.
The issue of MPs exploiting the state’s free medical care program has been under the spotlight for months. It was triggered by a report presented by PA Speaker Ahmed Fathi Sorour to the Prosecutor General implicating a number of MPs in using their status in parliament to abuse the system.
Independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm further reported that it received a copy of a report prepared by the Ministry of Interior regarding the case, which says that 35 MPs from the PA and Shoura Council are involved.
They belong to the ruling National Democratic Party, the Wafd Party and the Muslim Brotherhood.
However, the newspaper noted that security sources have confirmed that only 15 MPs are to be interrogated.
“It is a positive sign that all bad practices by MPs are being exposed, especially before the upcoming parliamentary elections in order for the people to make a sound decision as they cast their votes this fall,” said independent MP Gamal Zahran.