CAIRO: The cost of food and other supply commodities have decreased by 300 million EGP ($42 million) compared to last year, Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafy announced in a press conference Monday.
The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) purchased wheat directly from different sources without mediators, reducing the cost of wheat the government bought this year, Hanafy said.
“The new system of bread distribution contributed to the decrease in subsidies, as citizens directly benefit by exchanging their bread points with [other] free food commodities with [an expected] cost of 6 billion EGP ($1 billion) a year as a result of rationalizing bread consumption after generalizing the system [of bread ration cards”,] Hanafy added.
In April 2014, the Ministry of Supply launched an initiative to distribute subsidized bread with smart cards to guarantee that subsidies reach those who deserve them and that subsidized flour will not be sold in the black market.
Loaves of bread are counted as points in the card. Points not used can be exchanged with milk, cheese, sugar, tea or oil. Every person receives about five loaves of bread daily and each family receives 300 to 500 loaves monthly, according to the number of family members.
Hanafy also said that a new wheat stock system will be inaugurated in a week, state-of-the-art technology, improving the rating of local; hence exporting it. He added that 25 silos with a capacity of 750,000 tons will be established in a few months.
The government provided the market with 1.9 million tons of wheat in 2015, which “proves the success” of the new bread system, according to Hanafy.
Subsidized bread has long been a topic of contention; at the peak of the crisis, in 2010, several reports surfaced of people killed in bread lines, due to altercations in the long-wait for their share of subsidized bread.