Eid holiday brings glad tidings for Egyptian economy as hotels fill, power crisis eases

Bassem Abo Alabass, Wednesday 30 Jul 2014

Egyptians at a beach in Alexandria (File photo: Al-Ahram)

This week Egyptians celebrated Eid Al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, and with hotels full of local holidaymakers and an apparent easing of the power crisis, the holiday seems to have had some positive economic impacts. 

Fewer power cuts

There have been no electricity blackouts over the first two days of the Eid holiday, which started on Monday, because the consumed energy was less than the total being produced, according to the Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Regulatory Agency.

According to the official figures, the average electricity generation per day amounts to more than 23,000 megawatts while average consumption registers around 22,700 megawatts per day.

"The petroleum ministry has provided power stations nationwide with more fuel, which helped us to avoid reducing the capacity of the electricity grid," said Mohamed El-Yamany, a spokesman for the electricity ministry.

The petroleum ministry has pumped around 114 million cubic metres of fuel daily to power stations to avoid power cuts.

El-Yamany told Ahram Online that the relatively low temperatures over the last two days have also reduced the amount of electricity being used by air conditioners.

"Large number of Egyptian families travel to the beach during Eid, so households' consumption was limited," El-Yamany added.

Egyptian holidaymakers fill hotels

As a result of Egyptians heading to the coast to celebrate the holiday, hotels in resort cities have seen occupancies exceed 90 percent.

Abdel-Fattah El-Assi, the head of the hotels division at the tourism ministry, told Ahram Online that before Eid, occupancy rates in the Red Sea and South Sinai governorates ranged between 55 and 65 percent, mostly due to foreign tourists.

"Arabs and Egyptians have also pushed up the occupancy of hotels in Alexandria," El-Assi said, who added that, as is normal during the height of the summer, Luxor and Aswan in the south were seeing relatively low occupancy rates.

Egyptians on lower incomes have also been celebrating the holiday on the beach, with less conventional destinations such as Damietta, Daqahliya, and Kafr El-Sheikh seeing throngs of holidaymakers.

However, despite some positive impacts from the Eid holiday, there were also reports of delays in providing food subsidies to those who need them.

Lack of subsidised food

Long queues of Egyptians have been lined up at supermarkets, both private and public, complaining of the unavailability of subsidised food commodities which they are entitled to on a monthly basis.

A spokesman for the supply ministry, which manages the food subsidy programmes, told Ahram Online that private and public food companies under contract to the ministry have been late in providing supermarkets with the foodstuffs.

"This very temporary problem will be over within days as the companies have at present supplied around 40 percent of the commodities to the stores that are tasked with distributing subsidised food," Mahmoud Diab said.

He added that once 100 percent of commodities are delivered to stores, around 70 million ration card holders benefiting from the food subsidy system will be able to smoothly receive their July and August allotments in one batch.

In April, the Egyptian government rolled out new smart ration cards to tackle the decades-old problems of corruption and waste in the costly food subsidy system, as part of the cabinet’s attempts to ease the strain on state finances.

Under the new system, ration card holders are entitled to LE15 a month which each individual can choose to spend on any of 20 different foods, including meat and poultry, instead of a traditional fixed ration of subsidised rice, sugar and cooking oil, the only goods which were available to consumers under the old system.

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