Egypt's supply minister Mohamed Ali El-Sheikh during a press conference in Cairo (Photo Screenshot Courtesy of ONTV)
Egypt's supply ministry said on Saturday that it will set the commercial price of subsidised sugar at EGP 6 per kilogramme (kg) 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.
In a press conference held in the cabinet on Saturday, supply minister Mohamed Ali El-Sheikh said that his ministry will continue selling subsidised sugar for EGP 5 per kg within the ration card system, adding that the government subsidises sugar with 80-85 piasters per kg.
According to El-Sheikh, 71 million people use the government's subsidy cards to buy essential food goods.
The ministry said in a statement earlier on Saturday that the decision aims to control prices and regulate the market as well limit smuggling and price manipulation.
El-Sheikh said that the state is currently fighting the monopolising of all commodities, adding that it has intervened to provide sugar after the private sector refrained from supplying the needed quantities.
Egypt’s sugar production reached 2.2 million tonnes in 2016, around 900 000 tonnes less than consumed domestically, according to the agriculture ministry in June.
The statements by the supply minister come as the country faces a sugar scarcity due to an acute dollar shortage, leading to a current rise in prices of the unsubsidized sugar to reach EGP 9-10 per kg from EGP 4.5-6 per kg in August.
The minister added that the government is working to import sugar to meet demands, calling on citizens not to buy more than they need.
El-Sheikh said that the country has sugar reserves that would cover four months, edible oil reserves to cover six months, and a wheat reserves to cover four-and-a-half months.
According to the minister, Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has ordered the managing of essential foodstuff reserves to cover six months, adding that there is currently no problem related to the availability of foreign currency as it is being propped up by the central bank.
Egypt’s net international reserves currently stand at $19.591 billion, according to the central bank.