Egypt endeavours to curb rising prices of food commodities to pre-crisis rates ahead of Ramadan

Mai Ghandour, Tuesday 15 Mar 2022

A crisis committee to confront the impact of the current global crisis on strategic food commodities convened its first meeting on Monday chaired by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, ensuring that food prices will remain stable ahead of Ramadan, according to a statement by the Cabinet on Monday.

crisis committee
Crisis committee to confront the impact of the current global crisis on strategic goods convenes its first meeting on Monday chaired by Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly. (Photo courtesy of the Egyptian Cabinet)

Egypt formed a crisis committee to confront the impacts of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis similar to the one that was formed when the coronavirus pandemic hit the country in 2020.

Earlier, President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi has mandated the government to prepare different scenarios in addition to an emergency plan to mitigate the crisis’ negative effects, aiming to curb the prices and ensure there is no shortage of any goods whilst penalising those who try to exploit the crisis to raise prices in an unjustified way.

Last week, Egypt’s Public Prosecution ordered the detention of 12 merchants over charges of hoarding commodities to take advantage of global inflation and the Ramadan shopping season — which is set to start in early April — to later hike prices.

This is part of the country’s efforts to tighten control on the local market to maintain price stability and secure the availability of goods amid global circumstances.

The meeting comes nearly two weeks ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, which typically witnesses an increase in the rate of consumption of food products. The committee will hold weekly meetings to continuously assess the repercussions of the crisis, especially on the country’s strategic commodities.

To ensure that food commodities are secured in the local market throughout Ramadan, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi confirmed that his ministry would continue to provide meat in various outlets at pre-crisis prices.

The ministry provides three types of meat with high quality, namely Indian meat, which stands at EGP 55 per kilo; frozen Brazilian meat at EGP 85 per kilo; and Sudanese meat, which is locally slaughtered and priced at EGP 95 per kilo.

During the meeting, Moselhi also confirmed that the Egyptian Poultry Association agreed to provide suitable prices for the supply of eggs and poultry, whether for the outlets of the supply ministry or the private sector.

He pointed out that the commercial sector could also take advantage of this deal and get these discounted prices.

Rice will also be provided at lower prices than the current market price as per an agreement with 60 major merchants/traders, Moselhi pointed out.

Moreover, Oil will be provided at the same prices as February’s, which stand at the pre-crisis level, across the entire value chain.

A gradual decrease in the prices of a large number of commodities has been observed in the markets thanks to the measures that have been taken, whether related to the provision of commodities or the temporary ban on the export of a number of other commodities, Moselhi added.

Furthermore, PM Madbouly issued directives to the government to intensify the monitoring of merchants/outlets to ensure that everyone is providing all goods at reasonable prices to meet citizens’ demands during Ramadan, according to the statement.

Additionally, as per President El-Sisi’s directives, an incentive will be provided to encourage farmers to supply the largest possible amount of wheat this year, Madbouly indicated, adding that further details will be announced soon.

Globally, the price of wheat has increased by 48 percent, cooking oil by 32 percent, corn by 30 percent, sugar by 7 percent, frozen meat by 11 percent, poultry by 10 percent, and petroleum by 55 percent.

However, the prices of wheat and cooking oil in Egypt have increased by only 17 percent and 10 percent, respectively, as the country is witnessing a lower level of increase compared to other countries, according to the PM’s previous remarks.

Nearly 80 percent of Egypt’s consumed wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine, and in light of the latter’s recent announcement of not exporting commodities — including wheat, corn, grains, salt, and meat — Cairo has set its eyes on 14 alternative markets, including non-European countries like the US, Argentine, Canada, and Paraguay to meet its grain needs.

In an attempt to deal with expected shortages in wheat, Egypt has recently banned the export of wheat, fava beans, lentils, pasta, and all kinds of flour for the next three months.

Moreover, in light of the advent of the month of Ramadan, the Ministry of Trade and Industry decided on Saturday to impose an export ban on cooking oil, corn, and all kinds of cracked green wheat for three months.

Only the prices of meat and poultry products in Egypt have exceeded the global rates at the beginning of the crisis, Madbouly said, noting that the government would promptly resolve the matter.

Furthermore, the supply ministry is launching the ‘Ahlan Ramadan Initiative’ across all governorates this week in addition to preparing Ramadan boxes and giving out coupons for food commodities for the neediest groups.

The ministry will also prepare 500,000 Ramadan bags in addition to distributing 800,000 kilograms of meat, 500,000 of which will be distributed during Ramadan.

In order to deter any attempts to manipulate prices, the ‘We are All One Initiative’ will kick off on Wednesday with the aim of offering products at a reduced price till the end of Ramadan, Moselhi said.

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