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Egypt’s military takes over running of smart card subsidy system
(REUTERS): Egypt’s military has taken over the running of the country’s smart card subsidy scheme, the government said on Wednesday, in the latest sign of the armed forces increasing their influence over the economy.
The government said the management of the smart card subsidy system had been transferred to the military production ministry from the planning ministry.
“The move comes in the context of developing this system which aims to ease pressure on citizens and provide the best service when it comes to bread,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.
The smart card system, rolled out in 2014, gives Egyptians points to claim against bread and other items. The cards were also designed to stop bakeries selling subsidized flour on the black market.
However, a Reuters special report found in March the system could be hacked, allowing some bakers to falsify receipts and request far more subsidized flour than they officially sold. Instead of reducing the amount of flour the state paid for, critics said the system increased it.
The military’s economic activities have expanded over the past year. In recent months, for example, it has been getting more directly involved in commodities procurement, moving from supplying food on the street amid shortages to trying to buy goods such as rice directly from international traders.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former military chief, has said the military’s economic activities are equivalent to just 1 to 1.5 percent of gross domestic product, and not more than 20 percent as some have claimed.
Prime Minister Sherif Ismail has said the army’s economic role is likely to decrease within two to three years.
Police thwart smuggling of 67K liters of petrol, diesel to black market
Supply Police has thwarted an attempt to smuggle 67,00 liters of petrol and diesel to black market, Youm7 reported.
The crackdown also managed to seize 8,385 butane gas cylinders before being smuggled.
Sadat Metro station closed Friday amid calls to stage anti-government protest
The Sadat Metro station, located beneath the iconic Tahrir Square, is closed on Friday amid calls for anti-government protest against deteriorating economic conditions, state news agency MENA reported.
Spokesperson for the metro authority Ahmed Abdel Hady said that the closure comes as per request from security authorities.
A little-known group named Haraket Ghalaba (Movement of the Poor) has called online for Egyptians to protest on Nov. 11 against rising prices and deepening austerity.
Intensive security measures were taken in Tahrir Square and elsewhere in Cairo and several governorates early Friday in the wake of the calls, the interior ministry announced in a statement Thursday.
Following the 2011 uprising, the station has been closed for several times.
The station was also closed for almost two years following the dispersal of the pro-Muslim brotherhood sit-ins in August 2013. It re-opened in June 2015.
Egyptian fishermen barred in Saudi Arabia following financial dispute with employers
At least 32 Egyptian fishermen have been barred from leaving the Saudi Arabia for more than six months following a financial dispute with their Saudi “Kafeel”, or employer, Al Akhbar reported Thursday.
During a phone call with the Egyptian Minister of Immigration Nabila Makram, the employer insisted on financial compensation payback from the fishermen in return for the losses incurred as a result of their strike.
The fishermen have staged a sit-in outside the Egyptian embassy in Riyadh after their employer allegedly violated an “oral agreement,” which stated they would receive a percentage of profit and has not provided “suitable housing for them,” according to Makram.
In a Wednesday statement, the minister said she has contacted the employer and the Saudi concerned authorities in an attempt to resolve the problem.
9 militants killed in Egypt’s Sinai security raids
Security forces killed nine militants in military raid in North Sinai as part of the comprehensive “Operation Martyr’s Right” that aimed at uprooting terrorism in Sinai, military spokesperson Mohamed Samir announced in a statement Thursday.
“The operations also defused 40 explosive devices and destroyed 43 hideouts of the terrorist elements,” said Samir.
The raid targeted hideouts of militants in North Sinai’s cities of Rafah, Arish and Sheikh Zuwayed, he added.
Over the past two days, similar raids in the northern part of the peninsula left 17 militants dead while the security forces ruined 57 explosive devices, according to Samir
Egypt has witnessed a significant rise in militancy since the military-backed ouster of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 following mass protests against his rule. According to the Interior Ministry, militant attacks have killed more than 500 security personnel since then.