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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Egypt parliament to discuss legislative amendments to clamp down on high prices

LEGISLATION WATCH- House puts high prices and “monopolistic practices” in the crosshairs as state launches crackdown on price gougers: The House of Representatives is scheduled to discuss today proposed amendments to the Supply Affairs Law and the Egyptian Competition Act in a bid to curb the rising price of basic goods and commodities, Ahram Online reports. If passed, the amendments would grant sharper teeth to Supply Ministry, Consumer Protection Authority, and Interior Ministry inspectors “to help them discipline the local market” and crack down on what they see as high prices. The changes would also increase the fines imposed on traders found guilty of “hiding” strategic goods to drive up prices. The House legislative and economics committees, which have completed their review of the proposed amendments, said these changes are necessary to regulate prices after the reduction of subsidies and the EGP float led to some traders “exploiting” these reforms to “manipulate prices and double their profit margins.”

El Sisi, intelligence boss and top anti-corruption watchdog are backing the drive: The debate in the House comes after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with the head of the General Intelligence Directorate, the chairman of the Administrative Control Authority, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and a host of ministers to discuss ensuring commodities remain available at affordable prices as well as “measures for market monitoring and consumer protection.” Read the full statement from Ittihadiya here (pdf).

Background: Inflation has accelerated for two consecutive months, with annual headline inflation rising in October to 17.5%, largely on the back of higher vegetable prices, despite the government’s efforts to ease price increases. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has regularly directed his government to ensure basic goods are available at “reasonable prices” on the market. The Consumer Protection Act, which El Sisi had ratified in September, also sets a legal framework by which the government can impose price controls.

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