Egypt to im­ple­ment elec­tronic link­age of food com­mod­ity out­lets: Sup­ply Min­istry

The Daily News Egypt - - In-Depth - By Tamer Fara­hat

AHLAN RA­MADAN FOOD EX­HI­BI­TION TO BE HELD AT CAIRO IN­TER­NA­TIONAL CON­VEN­TION CEN­TRE

Egyp­tian cit­i­zens per­haps do not pay at­ten­tion to the state­ments or de­ci­sions made by dif­fer­ent min­istries as much as they do to those of the Min­istry of Sup­ply, as it is re­spon­si­ble for pro­vid­ing food com­modi­ties, es­pe­cially bread.

The Min­istry of Sup­ply is re­spon­si­ble for many is­sues that con­cern Egyp­tians, in­clud­ing food sub­si­dies and ra­tion cards, and its im­por­tance only in­creases as the month of Ra­madan is ap­proach­ing.

Daily News Egypt had an in­ter­view with Mo­hammed Sweid, spokesper­son for the Sup­ply Min­istry.

Is there truth to ru­mours about rais­ing food com­mod­ity prices?

There will be no in­crease in food com­mod­ity prices in Ra­madan.To the con­trary, the price of sugar will de­crease by EGP 1 per kg dur­ing the holy month, as a re­sult of the wise poli­cies pursued by the min­istry in the last pe­riod.There is a com­pre­hen­sive plan with the Fed­er­a­tion of Chambers of Com­merce to pro­vide all the re­quired com­modi­ties at large out­lets.

The min­istry adopted a num­ber of mea­sures in the last six months to de­velop in­ter­nal trade, no­tably the ap­pli­ca­tion of price la­belling on food pack­ages.

The Sup­ply Min­istry also adopted an ef­fec­tive mech­a­nism to con­trol the lo­cal mar­ket since last year af­ter the chaos wit­nessed in com­mod­ity prices fol­low­ing the lib­er­al­i­sa­tion of the ex­change rate.

The Fed­er­a­tion of Chambers of Com­merce and Sup­ply In­ves­ti­ga­tion Bu­reau are mon­i­tor­ing the Egyp­tian mar­ket reg­u­larly to as­sure the suc­cess of that mech­a­nism.

How does the Sup­ply Min­istry pre­pare for Ra­madan?

The min­istry will hold a large food ex­hi­bi­tion un­der the aus­pices of Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Al-Sisi at the Cairo In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre. Sim­i­lar ex­hi­bi­tions will be held na­tion­wide un­der the slo­gan “From pro­ducer di­rectly to con­sumer”. These ex­hi­bi­tions do not aim to achieve prof­its and will of­fer a 10-15% dis­count.

How will the min­istry ben­e­fit from con­sumer goods com­plexes and whole­sale out­lets across dif­fer­ent gov­er­norates dur­ing Ra­madan?

There is a plan to re­or­gan­ise con­sumer goods com­plexes and pro­vide em­ploy­ment train­ing with a pos­si­bil­ity of launch­ing a part­ner­ship with the pri­vate sec­tor in the man­age­ment of these com­plexes.This po­ten­tial part­ner­ship aims to ben­e­fit from the pri­vate sec­tor’s ex­per­tise in the man­age­ment of su­per­mar­ket re­tail chains.

There are more than 1,000 con­sumer goods com­plexes na­tion­wide; most of them are lo­cated in Cairo, Giza, and Alexan­dria.The Sup­ply Min­istry aims to im­ple­ment elec­tronic link­age of all these food com­modi­ties out­lets and com­plexes.

What is the min­istry’s plan for aid­ing fam­i­lies most in need and co­op­er­at­ing with NGOs?

The Egyp­tian govern­ment will of­fer 1m Ra­madan char­ity pack­ages, of which 600,000 will be dis­trib­uted by the Min­istry of En­dow­ments based on the data­base of the Min­istry of

THE FIRST STAGE OF RE­VIEW­ING RA­TION CARDS HAS BEEN COM­PLETED AND THOSE WHO ARE NOT EN­TI­TLED TO SUB­SI­DIES WERE EX­CLUDED

So­cial Sol­i­dar­ity.The Min­istries of Pe­tro­leum and Tourism will con­trib­ute EGP 200,000 each to pre­pare these char­ity pack­ages.There will be many sim­i­lar ini­tia­tives to ease the bur­den on cit­i­zens.

Did the min­istry face any prob­lems with re­gard to wheat sup­ply this year?

The min­istry was not crit­i­cised for the de­lay in an­nounc­ing the date of wheat sup­ply that was caused by the long ne­go­ti­a­tions within the govern­ment to in­crease the pur­chas­ing price of wheat from lo­cal farm­ers.

The sup­ply price of wheat with a pu­rity rate of 23.5% reached EGP 600 per ardeb, wheat with a pu­rity rate of 23% is sold at EGP 585 per ardeb, while wheat with a pu­rity rate of 22% costs EGP 570 per ardeb. It means that the pur­chas­ing price of wheat will in­crease by EGP 180 per tonne com­pared to last year.

The Egyp­tian wheat sup­ply price is EGP 200 higher than the world price. The min­istry could not raise the price more than this be­cause of the re­cent cor­rup­tion case in the min­istry.

The high price dif­fer­ence can lead to cor­rup­tion as the wheat sup­pli­ers will mix lo­cal pro­duc­tion with the im­ported wheat.

Did you com­mu­ni­cate with farm­ers to see if these prices are fair?

We have con­tacted some groups of farm­ers be­cause there is no com­pre­hen­sive union for all farm­ers.

If we con­sid­ered the costs of plant­ing wheat, which is es­ti­mated at about EGP 3,000 per fed­dan, so the re­turn will reach EGP 13,000, which is rea­son­able.

We hope to of­fer more than this, but ev­ery­one should know that any fur­ther in­crease in the pur­chas­ing price of wheat will af­fect the bread sub­si­dies.

Ac­cord­ing to the lat­est re­ports, the min­istry re­ceived 119,000 tonnes of wheat so far com­pared to 1,500 tonnes in the same pe­riod of last year.

What about the sup­plies and prices of meat?

The min­istry will pro­vide 17,000 tonnes of Su­danese meat dur­ing Ra­madan at EGP 85 per kg. Poul­try will be avail­able at the min­istry’s re­tail out­lets at EGP 17 per kg un­til the end of Ra­madan, de­spite the real mar­ket price be­ing EGP 30 per kg.

How has the re­view of ra­tion cards gone so far?

The first stage of re­view­ing ra­tion cards has been com­pleted and those who are not en­ti­tled to sub­si­dies were ex­cluded. More­over, the min­istry ex­cluded du­pli­cated names and cit­i­zens liv­ing abroad. We now have about 80 mil­lion Egyp­tians who re­ceive sub­sidised bread and 70 mil­lion who re­ceive other sub­sidised goods via ra­tion cards.

The min­istry has re­cently seized thou­sands of ra­tion cards that were il­le­gally used with­out the knowl­edge of their real own­ers.

We de­vel­oped a new elec­tronic sys­tem through which the cit­i­zens can ob­tain ra­tion cards via text mes­sages within seven days.

The cab­i­net formed a com­mit­tee called So­cial Jus­tice to re­de­fine the cri­te­ria for the grant­ing of ra­tion cards.There will be no change in the cur­rent data­base of cit­i­zens el­i­gi­ble to re­ceive sub­sidised goods un­til af­ter a com­mu­nity di­a­logue over cri­te­ria, in co­or­di­na­tion with par­lia­ment.

How did the min­istry deal with ru­mours about sus­pend­ing the ra­tion cards of those who did not vote in the re­cent pres­i­den­tial elec­tion?

The min­istry is­sued a state­ment to re­fute this ru­mour and the min­is­ter de­scribed it as a ridicu­lous ru­mour. The ra­tion cards are cru­cial for most cit­i­zens and grab the at­ten­tion of ev­ery­one, so we fol­low care­fully such fake news to pre­vent con­tro­versy.

Mo­hammed Sweid, spokesper­son for the Sup­ply Min­istry

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