Auctioning raw materials would further raise commodity prices: Supply minister

Mohamed Hamouda , Wednesday 17 Jan 2024

In response to parliamentary requests to auction the prices of raw materials supplied to the ministry such as sugarcane, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi cautioned that this would further raise commodity prices.

Ali Messelihi
supply minister Ali Messelihi. Photo: Al-Ahram

 

The statement came during the minister’s response on Tuesday to 98 regulatory tools, including 91 briefing requests, directed towards the ministry in a stormy session in the Egyptian parliament that was full of failure and even corruption accusations.

These tools raised questions about the ministry's control over markets, tackling monopolies, rising prices, shortages of certain goods, and strategy for preserving the strategic food reserve amid global food crises.

During the session, Moselhi affirmed that the supply ministry is responsible for overseeing the distribution of ration cards, and the like.

Addressing concerns about regulatory oversight, he emphasized that various state agencies, such as the Consumer Protection Agency, the Competition Protection and Anti-Monopoly Agency, and the Food Safety Authority, play roles in monitoring specific aspects.

"Does this mean that the Ministry of Supply is not responsible? I am responsible and represent the government, and inherently accountable for everything presented by members of the parliament," Moselhi clarified.

He further emphasized the government's efforts to determine fair prices and addressed criticism about the absence of market regulation, stating that the lack of organized markets hinders effective supervision, but there are plans to establish regulated markets and logistics zones to facilitate better oversight and control over goods.

To enhance the ministry's supervision of essential commodities and market interactions, Prime Ministerial Decree No. 5000 of 2023 classified specific products, including blended oil, fava beans, rice, milk, sugar, pasta, and white cheese, as strategic products, Moselhi added. 

Furthermore, implementing Prime Ministerial Decree No. 200 of 2023 provided regulations and procedures for trading these products, requiring companies involved in their production, import, packaging, and supply to abide by specific rules, the minister noted.

The parliamentary briefing comes in response to news of the cessation of the Abu Qurqas sugar production factory after 155 years of operation and a staggering sugar price surge in the local markets.

In December 2023, Moselhi revealed that Egypt’s strategic sugar reserves can cover local consumption needs for nearly 7.8 months.

Meanwhile, Egypt's annual headline inflation decelerated to 35.2 percent in December 2023, down from 36.4 percent in November, the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) reported on Wednesday 10 January.

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