An employee of a petrol station fills a car tank in Cairo (Reuters)
The long-planned smart card system at Egyptian gas stations will “most likely be activated by the end of this year,” an official from E-Finance Company, which is tasked by the government to execute the project, said on Tuesday.
E-Finance's strategy and business planning director Haitham Tarabeek told Ahram Online on the sidelines of the Euromoney Egypt Conference that although there is “nothing official yet” and that the system is “currently on hold,” it will be activated “very soon.”
The smart cards are part of a governmental programme to prevent the leakage of subsidised petroleum products onto the black market and into the hands of smugglers.
The project was initially scheduled to start in June 2013, with E-Finance training fuel workers and introduced the system to all gas stations, but the start date was indefinitely delayed, Tarabeek said.
Tarabeek stated that 15 days prior to the activation of the smart card system in 2015, “the government said to [put it on] hold” in order to add more vehicles, such as the three-wheeled tuk-tuks, to the system.
Tarabeek said that since then, E-Finance “put the mechanism in place,” registering tuk-tuks in a number of governorates to the system, adding that incorporating all tuk-tuks nationwide to the system "needs a government push."
In 2014, the government raised fuel prices by up to 78 percent to reduce subsidies by up to EGP 44 billion as part of a reform programme to phase out energy subsidies in an attempt to curb the growing state budget deficit, which is estimated at 11.5 percent in the fiscal year 2015/16.
The government plans to trim the petroleum subsidy bill in the 2016/17 budget by 43.5 percent to reach EGP 35 billion. The state budget was approved by parliament in July.