File Photo: Two Egyptian women shopping in a supermarket in Cairo, Egypt. Reuters
The move is the latest in a series of steps taken recently by the government to keep watch on prices in the local markets amid inflationary pressures.
Madbouly met on Monday with Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi to follow up on the prices in the markets amid observed “ variation and sometime unreasonable hikes in prices,” read a cabinet statement following the meeting.
With the global economic crisis holding sway, declaring prices for commodities sold on the local market had become a necessity, the premier noted.
According to Madbouly, “strict procedures” will be taken against those who do not comply with the government’s instructions in this regard as the government currently seeks to ensure the availability of commodities at “befitting” prices.
He also warned against stocking up on commodities, stressing that commercial outlets that violate the rules will be subject to closure and their commodities confiscated only to be resold for citizens, said the statement.
The prime minister also ordered the supply ministry to coordinate with the Egyptian Chambers of Commerce to ensure fair pricing of goods and the announcement of price lists, and to oversee the enforcement of the law at all commercial outlets.
The prices of foodstuffs have increased with both the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war on 24 February and the appreciation of foreign currencies against the Egyptian pound.
In recent months, the government detected that a number of outlets have been stockpiling rice, and refraining from selling it in the market. As a result, the government put a cap on the price of this staple food in September so as to be sold at no more than EGP 18 in the local market.
In mid-November, the cabinet issued a decree branding rice a strategic commodity, which means that the government is entitled to regulate its trading in the market for a specific period of time as per the country’s consumer protection act.
Despite the government setting fair prices for rice, Madbouly said, some were still stockpiling. He stressed that the oversight bodies will deal "decisively" with violators.
Madbouly stated that the government has official statistics that prove that the local production of rice suffices the domestic consumption.
November’s decree penalises those who stock up on rice and refrain from selling it with a jail term of no less than one year and a fine between EGP 100,000 and EGP 1 million.
For repeat offenders, the penalty will range between two and five years in prison and they will pay double the fine set in the first offence, according to the decree.