Egypt to in­tro­duce Smart Card for sub­si­dized bread by July

Daily Trust - - BUSINESS -

Egypt will in­tro­duce a smart card sys­tem for sub­sidised bread na­tion­wide by July, in an at­tempt to curb cor­rup­tion and smug­gling, Sup­plies Min­is­ter Khaled Hanafi said yes­ter­day.

A pi­lot scheme was launched in the Suez Canal city of Port Said on Sun­day and will be im­ple­mented in other cities next week.

“The new sys­tem will ... save the sub­si­dies al­lot­ted for bread, which cost 22 bil­lion Egyp­tian pounds ($3.15 bil­lion) a year, from be­ing wasted and leaked,” Hanafi said in a state­ment.

Egypt is the world’s largest im­porter of wheat, pur­chas­ing around 10 mil­lion tonnes a year, and pro­vides the poor with sub­sidised loaves sold for the equiv­a­lent of one U.S. cent.

Prof­i­teers have ex­ploited the sys­tem and many feed bread to live­stock be­cause it is cheaper than an­i­mal feed.

The govern­ment is un­der se­vere fi­nan­cial pres­sure and spends around a quar­ter of its budget on sub­si­dies of food, which also cover rice, su­gar and oil, and en­ergy.

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Ex­change April 11, 2014.

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