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Monday, 14 March 2022

Gov’t steps in to lower flour prices + calls for metal export ban

Rising food price inflation continued to dominate the airwaves last night, with most of the talking heads dedicating sizable portions of their shows to discussing bread prices and what the government is doing to tackle the problem.

Bringing old prices back: In an effort to hold down bread prices, the government will subsidize private bakeries by selling flour at a discounted rate, according to Ragab Shehata, head of the Rice Division of the Federation of Industries, who appeared on El Hekaya last night (watch, runtime 3:27). From today, bakeries will be able to purchase a ton of flour for EGP 8.5k, rather than the current market price of around EGP 11k, he said. The government also held talks with industry players, where the suggestion was made that bakeries could be required to sell unsubsidized bread by weight rather than pricing per loaf, to ensure that they aren’t skimping on loaf size.

The price of unsubsidized bread in the Greater Cairo area has risen by as much as 50% as global wheat prices soared following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As of last week, a pack of five balady loaves can cost EGP 7.50 in Cairo, up from EGP 5.00 the week before.

Calls for extending the export ban to include metals: Engineers and metallurgical industry experts are calling on the Trade Ministry to extend its export restrictions to include a one-year ban on all types of metals, said Mohamed El Mohandes, chairman of the Engineering Industries Chamber of the Federation Industries, in a phone-in on Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime 5:55) amid a global surge in the prices of steel, copper and aluminum due to the Russia-Ukraine war. The Trade Ministry last week banned the export of staple food commodities, including wheat, flour, oils and corn, for three months.

(EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was corrected on 14 March, 2022 to reflect that the cabinet is not considering supplying reduced amounts of flour to bakeries to combat stockpiling and inflating prices. The government in fact held talks with industry players, where it was suggested that bakeries could be required to sell unsubsidized bread by weight rather than pricing per loaf.)

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