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Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Talking heads focus on rice imports strategy, adding new commodity subsidy recipients

The Supply Ministry’s rice imports strategy and the addition of new commodity subsidy recipients were the most widely discussed topics on the airwaves last night. The most noteworthy segment, however, was Hona Al Asema’s interview with UKTrade Envoy Sir Jeffrey Donaldson.

New UK investments coming: British investors are keen to expand their involvement in the education sector in the region and Egypt in particular, Donaldson said. Businessmen from the UK are currently looking into a major investment in a new university hospital in Egypt, and a leading British company recently signed a GBP 180 mn investment agreement with the Education Ministry to make its digital technology more widely available to Egyptian students (watch, runtime: 4:45).

Donaldson also hailed President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s decision to announce 2019 as the Year of Education, which he said is in line with British investment priorities (watch, runtime: 23:19).

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly had met yesterday with a UK trade delegation, headed Donaldson, to discuss economic cooperation in education, healthcare, and infrastructure, according to a cabinet statement.

Gov’t issues regulations on barley rice imports: Concerns that barley rice could carry diseases and pests that would harm locally cultivated crops have pushed the government to issue regulations on its import. Head of the Agricultural Export Council’s rice committee Mostafa El Naggari phoned in to Masaa DMC to stress the importance of adhering to these regulations once the council puts them in place, and also highlighted the importance of relying on importing barley rice and white rice together to fulfill Egypt’s needs (watch, runtime: 2:35). Agricultural Quarantine Authority (AQA) head Ahmed El Attar echoed El Naggari, saying that two Egyptian research institutes have warned against the risk barley rice poses due to it being a potential carrier for diseases (watch, runtime: 16:56). The issue was also addressed on Hona Al Asema (watch, runtime: 5:57).

This comes as a group of unnamed private companies have received a 38k tonne rice shipment from China, marking the first time for Cairo to import rice from Beijing, head of the Federation of Egyptian Industries’ rice division Ragab Shehata said yesterday, Al Shorouk reports. The government had decided in June to allow rice imports, following previous measures to clamp down on the cultivation of the water-intensive crop. Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy had also said his ministry would select specific countries from which rice can be sourced and set a cap on the amount of rice Egypt will import, and would announce these rules within three months.

The Supply Ministry has designed a program to streamline the process of registering new subsidy beneficiaries, ministry spokesman Ahmed Kamal said on Al Hayah fi Masr. Kamal noted that all new additions to subsidy rolls will come into effect as of November (watch, runtime: 5:18). The minister’s IT advisor Amr Madkour also broke down the procedures to register on Masaa DMC, and warned that providing incorrect data could result in penalties (watch, runtime: 8:01).

The Press and Media Act is perfectly constitutional and its final form was more than satisfactory, Rep. Osama Heikal said on Hona Al Asema. Heikal’s only concern with the law is that it will need to be amended within a few years to remain up to date with media developments (watch, runtime: 30:04).

Support Egypt Coalition head Mohamed Elsewedy also discussed other laws parliament passed during the most recent legislative session, as well as the Madbouly Cabinet’s policy program with Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal (watch, runtime: 4:40). On a separate note, Elsewedy dismissed allegations that parliament wastes its resources, saying that House reps. receive salaries no higher than EGP 27,000 (watch, runtime: 6:25).

Media reports that doctors at Qasr Al Aini hospital stole a deceased patient’s corneas also got some airtime last night. House Rep. Magdy Morshed claimed that the move was legal, since corneas are considered a tissue and not an organ, meaning the hospital did not need to take permission to extract them (watch, runtime: 3:43). Law professor Mahmoud Kobeish begs to differ, telling Hona Al Asema’s Reham Ibrahim that the incident is a crime punishable by law (watch, runtime: 5:47).

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