A Cairo prosecutor ordered on Sunday the release of a man on EGP 1,000 bail after he was arrested for possessing an amount of subsidised sugar that exceeded possession of amounts reasonable for personal use, amid current shortages in the essential good on the market.
The man, who works as a waiter in a café, was arrested by police in Heliopolis as he walked on the street carrying 10 kilogrammes of sugar.
Prosecutors accused the waiter of stockpiling subsidised sugar with the intent of profiteering by selling it to a grocery at higher than the market price.
However, the man’s lawyer, Mohamed Naeem, argued his client was carrying the sugar for use at his uncle’s cafe, not to sell it at a grocery as claimed by police.
Egyptian law prohibits the use of subsidised goods and commodities for commercial purposes.
Prosecutors eventually released the man on bail pending further investigation but confiscated the 10 kilos of sugar as evidence.
The arrest comes as part of a widespread police operation targeting dealers of sugar on the black market, with a hotline set up on Saturday for citizens to report incidents of stockpiling of sugar and rice.
Egypt's supply ministry said on Saturday that it will set the commercial price of subsidised sugar at EGP 6 per kilogramme (compared to EGP 10 for unsubsidised sugar) to be available at the ministry's sales outlets in a move that aims to regulate the market amid a price hike and a shortage of the essential commodity.
Major supermarkets in the country have stopped the sale of subsidised sugar to individuals above personal use.