CAIRO: The government will begin cutting oil subsidies for energy-intensive industries, but allow them to use coal in order to control the soaring budget deficit, Minister of Planning Ashraf al-Araby announced Saturday, Al-Borsa business daily reported.
Al-Shorouq reported Friday the government will work on cutting down the oil subsidy allocations to 80 billion EGP ($11.18 billion) instead of 104 billion EGP after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi refused the current budget.
Alexandria received late Friday its first coal shipment from Ukraine, amounting to 11,000 tons of coal, MENA reported.
Maj. Gen. Adel Yassin, head of the Alexandria Port Authority, announced that the coal was offloaded in special port facilities in order to contain pollutants and protect the environment.
Allowing the use of coal for these industries follows a cabinet decision in April making coal legal for use in Egypt’s energy infrastructure. But, using coal as an energy source instead of natural gas is a controversial issue that has been debated between the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Electricity and the Ministry of Industry for months.
Former Minister of Environment Laila Iskandar previously said using coal in factories is dangerous to the economy, tourism and people’s health, but other professors and officials believe one of the only solutions to the energy crisis is including coal within the energy system.
Professor Mohamed Reda of Al-Azhar University’s Mining and Petroleum Department told The Cairo Post in early April that there is no better, faster, cheaper alternative energy source than coal. He also said it is easy to manage its negative side effects.