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Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Subsidy system purge put on hold, ministry to pursue structural reforms first

Subsidy system purge on hold? Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy reportedly plans to pursue structural reforms to the subsidy system before pushing on with his predecessor’s drive to purge welfare cheats from the rolls of citizens eligible for support, Al Shorouk reports, citing unnamed senior ministry officials. Former minister Mohamed Ali El Sheikh had planned to strike mns of citizens off the list of ration card holders, including the dead, individuals living abroad, people owning more than one piece of real estate, and anyone with a monthly income of more than EGP 3k (view the full list of criteria here). Some citizens had complained that their welfare access was unlawfully revoked in early February, after the government cut about 1.2 mn names (mostly the dead and duplicates) from the list. An ensuring review of the list found that 60 mn out of 70 mn registered citizens are eligible beneficiaries, the officials add. The other 10 mn citizens will reportedly be allowed to provide proof of their need for welfare by a deadline that the ministry intends to set soon, after which, after which any files with insufficient data will be permanently cleared.

Meanwhile, the Supply Ministry appears to be working with much greater enthusiasm on price controls with the Consumer Protection Authority and has apparently adopted a plan to establish a database of products and their market prices in a possible bid to get vendors to comply with them. The database will rely on input from both private and public sector companies, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy said, Al Borsa reports. El Moselhy said that the ministry and the CPA are working together on amendments to the Consumer Protection Act that will force manufacturers to label their products with a cost breakdown of their goods to prevent traders from over-inflating their prices. The amendments, which were first floated last month, caused the expected uproar among food producers at the Federation of Egyptian Industries.

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