Wheat subsidy to hit EGP 95 billion by year's end; new budget to focus on social protection: Madbouly

Ahram Online , Wednesday 18 Jan 2023

Egypt's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said the cost of wheat subsidies will reach EGP 95 billion by the end of the year, up from EGP 38 billion.

A number of Egyptian citizens queue to buy subsidised bread. File photo/Al-Ahram


Madbouly stressed that the new budget will focus heavily on social safety measures, adding that the government has not touched the price of the subsidised bread despite the current global economic circumstance.

The premier was speaking at a press briefing following a cabinet meeting in the country's new administrative capital, where he announced initiatives to support the industry and agricultural sectors.

Egypt provides the 90-gram loaf of subsidised bread – a staple of the Egyptian diet – for 5 piastres to citizens enrolled in the ration card system, while its actual cost is 90 piastres, according to government officials.

In the country's 2022/2023 budget, the total cost of subsidised goods including bread shot up from EGP 87.2 billion to EGP 90 billion due to the increase in the US dollar price.

The outbreak of the Russian-Ukrainian crisis in February led to a global shortage in wheat supply, and Egypt – the world's top wheat importer – has since been seeking new international sources of wheat alongside increasing local procurement. Egypt was relying on both Russia and Ukraine for 80 percent of its imported wheat.

The country's 104 million plus population relies heavily on wheat for making bread, consuming almost 100 billion loaves of bread annually.

Following the war in Ukraine, the prices of unsubsidised bread sold at at private outlets and bakeries in Egypt increased.

In its December report, the country's Central Agency for Public Mobilisation and Statistics (CAPMAS) said the price of bread rose by 5 percent in December.

It added that the country's monthly inflation rate rose by 2.1 percent in December compared to November, with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) hitting 143.6 points due the increase in the prices of basic commodities, according CAPMAS.

To help cut prices, the supply minister said citizens who do not have ration cards will be able to buy subsidised bread using prepaid cards.

In today's presser, the prime minister said the government will continue to push ahead with efforts to cushion the blow of rising prices, which have soared all over the world.

The country's new budget for FY2023/24, set to be put forward by the government by February, will heavily focus on maximising social safety, he said.

"The most important thing for us is that all commodities remain available and that, to the extent of our capabilities as a country, we remain able to provide partial support and reduce the bill for citizens," Madbouly explained.

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