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Monday, 25 July 2016

Khaled Hanafy, head of wheat corruption committee interviewed on MBC Masr

Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy hits back: Embattled Supply Minister Khaled Hanafy placed the blame for the debacle over this year’s wheat harvest right back on the House’s doorstep. The ministry attempted to reform the system, but the House of Representatives stood in its way, said Hanafy in an interview on the “Yahduth Fi Masr” talk show on MBC Masr. Hanafy is referencing the wheat subsidy reform program that was adopted back in November, but shot down by the House in February. Under its provisions, farmers would have been paid the average global price for their crop and given a direct EGP 1,300 subsidy per feddan. He singled-out the Blumberg Grain shouna program as an example of how the ministry tried to reform the system, but did not name the company or address allegations the ministry has failed to provide the Blumberg shounas without electricity.

Hanafy said his ministry has opened its own corruption investigation and said public funds have been safeguarded through contracts with silo owners, who can be sued for the missing wheat, and through a EGP 5 bn insurance policy taken out against fraud. Only the courts can decide whether the ministry is corrupt, not the parliament, he stated.

Vote of no confidence coming? It may come to a showdown, as the committee could recommend in its report a vote of no confidence on Khaled Hanafy, committee chairman Magdy Malak said in an interview on the same program immediately following Hanafy. Malak accuses the minister of misrepresenting the facts on this season’s harvest despite relying on “a company which worked with the armed forces” (another reference to Blumberg Grain) to build systems to detect the fraud. Pressed by host Sherif Amer, Malak denied that the committee was singling out the Supply Ministry, adding that Agriculture Ministry officials were also being investigated.

You can view the full episode on MBC Masr’s Shahed portal (Watch in Arabic, run time: 1:11:04; Hanafy’s interview starts at 0:17:40; Magdy Malak’s segment begins at 0:55:10)

Over to Blumberg Grain, where the company apparently requested that the Armed Forces Engineering Authority be the only government body charged with supervising its shouna program and that the Supply Ministry be taken out of the equation, sources tell Al Borsa. These sources, which are not corroborated, said again that Blumberg could pull out of Egypt in favour of expansion in Algeria. Al Borsa had referenced an unnamed source last week who stated that company would exit Egypt by 5 August if problems with electrical supply for its shounas was not resolved. Neither the domestic press nor House investigative committee chairman Malak confirmed whether Blumberg chief David Blumberg testified before the committee yesterday as originally expected.

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