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Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Variety of topics from fertilizers to air pollution discussed

A variety of econ-related subjects made it to the airwaves last night, which was otherwise unremarkable. (Also: Still no Lamees El Hadidy.)

Trade and Industry Minister Amr Nassar raised export duties on fertilizers yesterday to EGP 500 per tonne, from EGP 125 currently, according to a ministry statement. The move means to ensure that the local market’s needs of fertilizer are covered and force producers to meet their monthly delivery commitments to the government. We had heard in July that the Agriculture Ministry was considering imposing sanctions on suppliers of subsidized fertilizers who have fallen behind on their monthly deliveries, creating a shortage in the market. Manufacturers had said, however, that they lose as much as EGP 250 per tonne on government contract, which has led them to focus more on exports lately. Manufacturers are required to sell 55% of their production to the government.

Agriculture Ministry spokesperson Hamed Abdel Dayem defended the decision, saying that manufacturers had not been meeting their quotas. He added that this had driven up market prices of produce as farmers turned to the black market for fertilizers. The Agriculture Ministry is developing estimates on governorate-level demand for fertilizers to set up a quota system, he told Hona Al Asema (watch, runtime: 6:36). The Federation of Egyptian Industries sees that the move would have the desired effect, the head of its chemicals division Sherif El Gabaly phoned-in to say. He called on farmers and producers to get together to more accurately gauge demand and come to a consensus on the quantities they should be given and at what prices (watch, runtime: 7:15).

On to housing, where the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) approved a one year penalty-free extension for developers on new cities who have finished 95% of a project, but need more time to reach the finish line, NUCA deputy head Tarek Al Sebaay told Hona Al Asema. The decision will made a matter of record in the Official Gazette in a little over a week, he says (watch, runtime: 9:59).

Pharma shortages scares are back on the airwaves, with the head of pharma division of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, Ali Aouf, telling Yahduth fi Masr that some 150 meds, including insulin, are in short supply. In a bid to push for more local manufacturing, Aouf blamed the problem on a lack of a generic alternatives to brand-name products (watch, runtime: 3:58). Health Ministry official Rasha Zeyada denied there is an insulin shortage, saying that most pharmacies are well stocked (watch, runtime: 8:33).

The Environment Ministry’s delusions that air pollution is under control is actually quite disturbing. The Environment Ministry’s September study on levels of air pollution in Cairo and Delta region are “positive” and indicate that the ministry’s policies have been working, Masaa DMC’s Osama Kamal said (watch, runtime: 2:04). These “positive results” were a direct result of the agriculture and environment ministry’s efforts to reduce the area of rice cultivation, clamp down on the burning of rice straw, and using rice straw as an alternative fuel in cement plants, Environment Ministry official Mostafa Mourad told Kamal (watch, runtime: 2:42). We suppose that by sidestepping mention of soot, smog, car pollution, factory pollution, waste disposal, construction, or any other of the myriad of things that cause air pollution, things are indeed quite positive.

Kamal also discussed the last round of water prices hikes with Water Holding Company chairman Mamdouh Raslan, who urged water rationing (watch, runtime: 4:40).

The K-6 component of the Education Ministry’s curriculum reforms were looked at by Hona Al Asema’s Dina Zahraa (watch, runtime: 30:31).

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