Amid Corona, Egypt removes 10 million citizens from bread subsidy system

The Egyptian Minister of Supply has announced that his ministry removed 10 million “ineligible” citizens from bread subsidy system – amid the outbreak of the coronavirus in Egypt – despite a previous decision by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to return those who were deleted to the subsidy system after the September 20 demonstrations.

More than 70% of Egyptian population benefit from bread subsidies, Ali Meselhi, the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade says.

A total of 10 million citizens have been removed from the bread subsidies system in Egypt, according to Ali Meselhi, Minister of Supply and Internal Trade, under the pretext of being “ineligible” to receive these subsidies.

The filtered names are equivalent to LE 5bn of subsidies and were removed after the ministry allegedly discovered forged ration cards and repeated names.

In a televised interview on Tuesday, Meselhi said the ministry has established an accurate database of citizens who are “eligible” for bread subsidies, adding that no decision has been taken to add new births to the system yet.

Ali Al-Muselhi, the Minister of Supply, had announced last July that the state’s budget cannot afford to subsidize bread for 71 million citizens.

He added in a speech to the Economic Committee of the parliament that there are 71 million citizens that benefit from subsidizing bread, and that 64 million and 400 thousand others benefit from subsidizing food commodities.

Bread is an important item for food security in Egypt, where between 250 to 270 million bread loaves are being produced daily, with an overall average of 3.5 loaves per person, according to Meselhi.

Similar to the deletion of 10 million citizens from bread subsidy, the Ministry of Supply has excluded, since February 2019, about 13 million and 782 thousand citizens from the food support system through 5 stages.

The Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade has established a set of specifications and criteria to exclude those it believes are not eligible for support through cards and the supply of goods.

These decisions came with other hasty and accelerating decisions to lift subsidies on fuel, electricity and water, and to raise prices for goods and services, which led to 60% of Egyptians, according to World Bank statements, to the poverty line.

In a statement, the Prosecuter General considered that a number of the demonstrators of September 20 were affected by the economic decisions, and as a result, government media held the Minister of Supply responsible for the anti-Sisi demonstrations.

Later Al-Sisi issued, in two tweets, a decision to return the deleted citizens to the support system.

Commenting on the decision at the time, the Minister of Supply said during a telephone conversation with Amr Adib on MBC Egypt TV channel: “The Egyptian citizen is the true hero of this stage, as Sisi said, and that he must be rewarded, and that no Egyptian be harmed, Mesilhi said”.

However, the same minister has now decided to remove 10 million Egyptians from the bread subsidy system despite Sisi’s previous decision to return those who had been deleted to the subsidy system after the September 20 demonstrations!