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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Supply Ministry to rework bread subsidy system in six months, sticks to its guns on price printing

The Supply Ministry has plans to rework the country’s bread subsidy system by May 2018, Minister Ali El Moselhy announced at a meeting with the Cairo Chamber of Commerce yesterday, Al Mal reports. The ministry is looking to curb the rising price of baking and to legislate profit margins for bakeries that are part of the subsidy system, El Moselhy said, without providing further details. The ministry had raised the cost of bread production in July to EGP 180 per each 100 kg sack of flour, which yields 1,250 loaves. The subsidy system currently covers 81 mn citizens and the state is prepared to add more beneficiaries if needed, the minister said, according to Youm7. Ration card holders are allowed to purchase subsidized goods from any retailers across the country as long as the retailer is linked to the electronic system, the minister said. He had previously issued a decision to restrict cardholders’ access to subsidized bread to bakeries in the governorate where they officially reside, but later decided to postpone the move.

The ministry is also working with the Council of State (Maglis Al Dawla) to amend domestic trade laws to “match current political and economic conditions,” Al Masry Al Youm reports. The story offers no further detail, and we can’t even begin to tease out what this means. This comes as the ministry is implementing a new logistics-focused domestic trade strategy, which El Moselhy unveiled in September.

One thing that will remain unchanged is the policy requiring food manufacturers to clearly list prices on their packaging. El Moselhy said the policy will be strictly implemented once the grace period granted to manufacturers ends as of February 2018, and that all products that do not comply with the policy will be confiscated, AMAY reports. According to the minister, manufacturers do not necessarily have to print individual price labels on the products’ packaging. Any means of “clearly listing” the price will do, including providing retailers with a price list to hang in their shops. El Moselhy stressed that this is not a mechanism to impose price controls.

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