Egypt’s potential switch from subsidies to cash payments must be discussed by parliament first: Speaker

Gamal Essam El-Din , Sunday 12 Jan 2020

Ali Abdel-Aal criticised the supply minister’s ‘provocative’ statement last week that the government is considering eliminating in-kind subsidies in favour of cash payments

File Photo: Around 70 million of Egypt's population are beneficiaries of the subsidy card program. (Photo: Reuters)

The speaker of Egypt’s House of Representatives, Ali Abdel-Aal, said at a plenary meeting of parliament on Sunday morning that any government decision to change subsidy systems should be first discussed in parliament.

“I stress that a shift from one subsidy system to another will be adopted only after discussion and dialogue with members of this parliament,” said Abdel-Aal.

Abdel-Aal’s statement came in response to a statement delivered by MP Sayed Abdel-Aal, who is leader of the leftist Tagammu party, who said that he and many MPs were taken aback by Supply Minister Ali Mosselhi declaring last week that the government is considering moving ahead with a plan to eliminate food subsidies in favour of cash payments to recipients.

“I want to stress that when government officials issue statements of this sensitive kind, they should be cautious and observe the interests of citizens first, because it is by no means acceptable that such provocative statements come at a time the Egyptian state is facing a lot of challenges,” said Abdel-Aal.

“Let me emphasise that there will not be any switch in the subsidy system...that food and in-kind subsidies will be kept in place and that there will never be a switch to cash subsidies unless there is consultation and dialogue with MPs first.”

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Mosselhi said last week that the government is considering a switch to cash handouts, from the existing ration card system.

A subsequent statement issued by the cabinet on 9 January said that “a number of entities are currently studying the possibility of the move, and there is a proposal that the new cash subsidy system be implemented on a trial basis in a number of governorates first.”

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