Egypt began a trial run for the fuel smart card system on Saturday, with official assurances that the system does not limit individuals' share of subsidised fuel.
The long-awaited fuel card system at Egyptian gas stations is part of a governmental programme to prevent the leakage of subsidised petroleum products onto the black market and into the hands of smugglers.
"Applying the new system aims to identify the real consumption rate of fuel, and compare it to the fuel being produced locally as well as imported," the country's Prime Minister Sherif Ismail was quoted as saying in a Sunday cabinet statement.
"There is no relationship between applying the smart-card system and increasing the prices of fuel," the prime minister said, adding that there is no intention to set a quota for individual consumption.
E-Finance Company, which has been tasked by the government to execute the project, has issued 6.3 million cards so far nationwide, the spokesman of Egypt's oil ministry Hamdy Abdel-Aziz told Al-Hayah Alyoum TV channel on Monday.
Abdel-Aziz added that during the trial run, gas stations would use their own smart fuel card systems for users who are yet to obtain their own cards.
Ahram Online couldn't reach the oil ministry's spokesman for further details.
For those who never received their smart cards, the cards are automatically issued, and the users should send an SMS to 4555 and follow the proceeding instructions on how to obtain their cards, a pre-recorded message on E-finance's hotline stated.
For users who lost their cards, they can send an SMS with their vehicle's chassis number followed with a space and then their car's motor number to 4555 and wait for further instructions.
Charges for issuing a new card are ُEGP 25, excluding taxes, plus EGP 25 delivery charges of the card. The card will be delivered within 14 days, E-Finance's hotline stated.
For further information, vehicle owners can visit www.esp.gov.eg or call E-Finance's hotlines 19680 or 19683.
The car system was initially scheduled to start in June 2013, and rescheduled to 2015 but delayed again.
In an exclusive interview in September, E-Finance's strategy and business planning director Haitham Tarabeek told Ahram Online that the system would be activated by the end of 2016.
Tarabeek added at the time that delaying the operation of the fuel smart card system in 2015 was because "the government said to [put it on] hold” in order to add more vehicles, such as the three-wheeled tuk-tuks, to the system."
In 2014, the government raised fuel prices by up to 78 percent to reduce subsidies by EGP 44 billion as part of a reform programme to phase out energy subsidies in an attempt to curb the growing state budget deficit, which is estimated at 11.5 percent in the fiscal year 2015/16.
The government plans to trim the petroleum subsidy bill in the 2016/17 budget by 43.5 percent to reach EGP 35 billion. The state budget was approved by parliament in July.