Egypt’s Minister of Supply and Internal Trade Ali Moselhi told parliament on Tuesday that state subsidies should go directly to consumers rather than bakeries and grocers.
Speaking before the House of Representatives, Moselhi called on MPs to support the ministry's decision in diverting food subsidies from bakeries and grocers to consumers, arguing that direct subsidies to consumers will be more beneficial for the public.
“I hope we direct subsidies to the real beneficiaries, who are the Egyptian citizens for whom we are working, and not anyone else,” Moselhi said in his speech.
Moselhi stressed that such a move would achieve the goals of the government’s food subsidy programme.
The minister rejected criticism from some MPs regarding a recent ministry decision to reduce the weight of a subsidised bread loaf to 90 grams.
“The old weight of a single loaf in all governorates never exceeded 91 grams,” Moselhi said, adding that the ministry “subsequently took a decision to reduce the weight of the loaf to 90 grams to avoid wasting resources."
The minister said savings from setting the weight of a loaf at 90 grams would be redirected to the state’s budget in order to bolster infrastructure projects and the health and education systems.
On combatting corrupt practices by some bakers, Moselhi told MPs that bakeries pay the market price for each gram and they would be shut down if the differential exceeds 20 grams.
The minister stressed that the ministry would not permit any licensing of bakeries based on false application data and would not allow any bakery that serves less than 2,500 people in any one area to remain in operation.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives Hanafy El-Gebaly referred the supply minster's statement to the parliament’s committees of Economic Affairs and Social Solidarity for review and follow up.