Egyptians buy bread from a bakery in Cairo (AP)
Egypt's smart-card system for selling subsidised food will soon fall under the authority of the military production ministry instead of the ministries of supply and planning, Al-Ahram Arabic news website reported on Tuesday.
In a joint meeting between officials from the three ministries on Tuesday, supply minister Khaled Hanafy said that they will be signing a trilateral protocol stating that the military production ministry would fully supervise the management and development of the food subsidy system and deal with violations.
According to Al-Ahram, this shift in management aims to "speed up the issuing of the food subsidy cards, replace lost or damaged cards, raise efficiency and provide machinery for new bakeries and groceries."
In mid 2014, Egypt introduced the food subsidy system wherein citizens are provided with smart cards entitling them to a monthly ration worth EGP 15 per individual in addition to five loaves of bread a day at the subsidised price of EGP 0.05 a loaf, which is lower than the market rate of EGP0.3.
An agreement will also be signed with Visa International in cooperation with Microsoft to improve the efficiency of the card service and help develop internal trade in Egypt, according to Hanafy.
In April, Egypt's government raised food subsidies by EGP 2.4 billion, boosting each citizen's share by 20 percent, following an order by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi that low-income earners be compensated for food price hikes caused by the fluctuating price of the US dollar in recent months.
Egypt is the world's largest importer of wheat, purchasing around 10 million tonnes a year, and provides the poor with subsidised loaves sold for the equivalent of one US cent.
Since the 2011 revolution, Egypt, which relies heavily on imports to cover the needs of its population of 91 million, has suffered from a turbulent economy and political turmoil, scaring off investors and tourists.