CAIRO: Egypt’s new smartcard bread subsidy system, which has been in effect since March, has been widely criticized by both citizens and owners of bakeries across the country.
In its report published Thursday, al-Shorouk said that it has monitored long lines of people in front of bakeries waiting to get bread and others complained about the smart card machines being frequently out of order.
Others complained about being unable to get subsidized bread in bakeries that are not within the range of their residences, according to al-Shorouk.
Owner of a bakery in Cairo’s district of Hadayek el-Qobba told al-shorouk: ” Since the application of the system, our bank accounts, which are allocated for paying their dues, are empty despite the ministry’s confirmations to pay its dues every 24 hours.”
On the contrary, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab was quoted by al-Masry al-Youm as saying that the system is effective and has been successfully applied in some governorates and is to be generalized across the country.
In April, Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafy announced the implementation of a pilot scheme of the new government smartcard subsidy system for bread in Egypt’s Suez Canal city of Port Said.
“The smart card-based system is similar to a cash transfer system where each card includes the number of points per family member and each commodity will be worth a certain number of points,” said Hanafy.
Hanafy added that the ministry would also make smartcards available for citizens so they could save points to be used in exchange for other commodities, including rice, beans, lentils, and other appropriate items.
In order to tackle its budget deficit, the government imposed several economic changes and lifted subsidies of natural gas pumped to homes and commercial buildings.
It also has increased the fuel prices by 78 percent.
The official spokesperson of the Min. of Supply Mahmoud Diab announced that the new subsidy system will reduce the waste of resources by 30 percent, MENA reported on Thursday.
Ministry of supply had admitted the presence of some gaps and defaults in the new subsidy system that causes its misdistribution.