CAIRO: Minister of Trade Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour stated Tuesday that the lifting of subsidies from natural gas supplies will only adversely affect high income people, as they are the highestbeneficiaries of the subsidies, rather than lower-income people.
Abdel Nour added, during an interview on Dream 2 channel, that the withdrawal of subsidies serves low-income persons, as those who consume more than 25 cubic centimeters of natural gas are not equal to those who consumed less than that.
The Cabinet decided on Monday to lift subsidies off the prices of natural gas pumped into homes and commercial activities. The decision will be enforced by May 1, and prices will be adjusted according to consumption rates.
Abdel Nour further stated that Egypt is currently in an energy crisis, and that the government is exerting more efforts to use renewable energy sources. However, he also pointed out that Egypt has turned towards using coal to as source of energy in order to meet Egypt’s energy requirements.
Egypt relies on a mix of energy sources, though the vast majority are petrol-dependent sources, such as natural gas, making up 96 percent of the energy mix. Another three percent is hydraulic energy, while the remaining one percent is coal.
Abdel Nour further affirmed that coal is the only way to solve this problem, noting that the use of coal will face many restrictions and observation from the Ministry of Environment .
He noted that some of the coal will extracted from Maghara Field in Sinai, while majority of it will be imported from abroad, pointing out that Egypt has suitable ports to receive coal like Dekhela Port and Arish Port.
Conversely, former Minister of Petrol Osama Kamal said in phone interview on Dream 2 channel on Tuesday that Egypt is rich with energy resources, noting that the East Ewainat area and Wadi Gedid governorate are prime sources of solar energy.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab called on Minister of Environment Laila Iskander for an urgent meeting to discuss the issue on Monday, following which Iskander stated that the environmental requirements for using coal in power generation is still under review within the government, Youm7 reported .
However, activists remain in firm opposition to the decision to use coal, most notably the Egyptians Against Coal movement, which has voiced deep concerns over the environmental and health hazards of using coal.
Further, while the use of coal will reportedly be regulated by environmental guidelines, Iskander has previously filed reports against various companies for violating the ministry’s standards, prior to the approcal of the decision to import coal.