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By AYA IBRAHIM
CAIRO: The Ministry of Supply is preparing a new service for sending SMS to ration card holders. The messages will inform them when supplies reach distributing shops and tell them their shares of monthly subsidized commodities and bread, as well as answer any questions about subsidized goods, official spokesperson of the Ministry of Supply Mahmoud Diab told The Cairo Post on Thursday.
“The process of collecting the citizens’ phone numbers has started under the supervision of supply Minister Khaled Hanafi,” Diab said. “[Hanafi] gave his directives in Tuesday’s meeting with the project manager for the Family Card System in the Egyptian Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD), representatives from the companies implementing the smart cards and the three main mobile phone companies. We hope to start sending SMS alerts within the coming few days.”
Egypt applied a new smart card system in April to guarantee more effective distribution of subsidized goods and bread.
Diab said the decision to send SMS “will guarantee that citizens do not need make unnecessary trips to the subsidized complexes just to know whether or not supply have reached them.”
The SMS will include all inquiries about the services provided by the Ministry of Supply, he said, adding that the ministry will also use this SMS service to share information about the prices of the subsidized goods at state’s complexes, the date and time of any seasonal exhibitions and the phone numbers of all hotlines allocated to receive complains.
Meanwhile, Hanafi said in a Tuesday statement that the ministry is working to establish a sophisticated Call Center in coordination with the Ministry of Communication to serve Egyptians. He said the service will be available within a few days.
Starting from July, Egypt’s supply ministry applied a new system of primary commodities distribution in which it increased the subsidized goods presented to citizens to twenty instead of just three, sugar, rice, and oil, under the old ration card system, Al Borsa Business daily reported July 2.
“In the new ration card system, people are allowed to choose from a wide range of commodities including milk, fruits, and vegetables, according to each family’s needs with total value up to 15 EGP per person per month,” Hanafi was quoted as saying by Al Borsa.
The United States believes President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi is still “continuing the democratic transition” in Egypt, State Department Deputy Spokeswoman Marie Harf said during a Monday press briefing.
This comes despite the US being “deeply disturbed” by the findings of Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) recently released report on the Egyptian government’s dispersal of the mass sit-in at Rabaa Al-Adaweya last summer.
The report, released on the dispersal’s one year anniversary on 14 August, alleged that the Egyptian government had carefully planned the operation in a way that disregarded civilian casualties. Harf noted that the State Department had in February produced its own Human Rights Report which also examined the Rabaa dispersal.
Despite US support for Al-Sisi’s efforts towards a democratic transition, Harf said Egypt has “a long way to go”, noting that part of the US’s aid to Egypt “has not been certified”.
In January 2014, the US Congress allocated $1.3bn for Egypt in the coming fiscal year, with $572m released in June. However, the January bill stipulated that the release of further aid is conditional upon democratic progress, including the holding of parliamentary elections.
“What we expect is the process that’s laid out by Egypt’s constitution… on how Egypt should be governed is adhered to, and that the government should take additional steps to allow for dissent, to allow for people to come out in the streets and make their voices heard if they’re doing so peacefully.”
The US will “say very clearly when he [Al-Sisi] needs to take more steps”, she added.
Harf said the US would “also continue pressing for the release of journalists and others … for politically motivated reasons.”
The US-Egyptian relationship has seen heightened tension since the ouster of former president Mohamed Morsi in July 2013.
In October 2013, the US partially suspended the delivery of military aid to Egypt in response to the latter’s crackdown on opposition. Harf was later asked in a 31 July press briefing why military aid to Israel had not been similarly suspended in light of mounting civilian casualties from the Israel Defense Force’s campaign in the Gaza Strip. The distinction, Harf said, was that the Egyptian government had been using the US aid “against its own people”.
The remarks prompted a response from the Egyptian foreign ministry, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Sameh Shoukry instructing the embassy in Washington to file a complaint, stating that the comments had “nothing to do with reality” and asserting that the statements issued by the spokespersons of the State Department should “reflect facts in the future”.
Despite these points of contention, Harf underlined that the two countries share a vital strategic partnership, first citing the “absolutely critical role” Egypt has played in cease-fire talks between Hamas and Israel, and in working towards a longer term truce, a goal she called “incredibly important regionally”.
She also cited US-Egyptian cooperation on counterterrorism, but qualified that “the title [of “terrorist”] can’t be used just to apply to anyone [those in the Egyptian government] don’t like. That can’t be applied to peaceful protesters. But we know there is a serious terrorist threat and we’re working with them on that.”
In instances of such “overlapping strategic interests”, Harf said the US and Egypt would work together, but added that this would not preclude criticism or disagreement.
“When we have concerns about what [the Egyptian government] has done, we will say so publicly and clearly, and also privately,” she said. “So it is a longstanding relationship, but one where, when we disagree, we are very clear about that. And this is certainly one of those cases.”
By GHADA ATEF
CAIRO: Citizens throughout Egypt were frustrated and expressed their anger at the largest number of blackouts this year on Monday. The Ministry of Electricity announced in a press statement that the domestic electricity load, on average at 2,000 megawatts, increased to 6,000 megawatts for the first time in its history, Youm7 reported.
Many residents said Monday was the worst case of blackouts in a year and in many cases caused trouble in their home electricity machines. One resident in October City, Cairo Yassmin Adel told The Cairo Post that the blackouts in the neighborhood before August were two or three times a week for an hour each time: “Now the number rose to three times a day for an hour and half each time.”
She experienced four blackouts, each time for an hour and half on Monday.
The ministry official source said the crisis might worsen even after some power stations were targeted and destroyed in the latest sabotage events. “If the ministry could not find a solution to provide more amounts of fuel, the crisis will be aggravated by the end of August,” he said.
Some areas in Faisal, Giza witnessed more blackouts than it did electricity; some cases for five whole hours, the electricity come return for an hour or two, then blackout again.
Ayat G. lives in Obour City and Cairo told The Cairo Post that the blackout caused her air condition to shut down. She said the blackouts in her district are not as bad compared with the more heavily populated cities but still they do still affect the home electrical appliances.
In Alexandria, the power blackout lasted for 8 hours at different times during the day, according to resident Amani K.
“For the last two months, we have been living with an electricity generator to avoid the many hours of the blackout daily,” Sharqia governorate resident Fawzeya S. told The Cairo Post.
The energy crisis in Egypt is worsening due to the shortage of fuel, according to ministry officials. Citizens expected President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s new government to find a solution to the problem soon.
Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker signed Monday two contracts with steam-powered electricity stations in Suez at the total cost of 102 million EGP ($14.26 million) to counter the increase in electrical load and to provide power to all areas of development. The project will be ready to run at full capacity in April 2016, according to a statement published on the ministry’s official website.
By AYA IBRAHIM
CAIRO: Minister of Foreign Trade, Industry, and Investments Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour will visit Russia on Sept. 10 to boost Egyptian-Russian trade ties by signing a deal. He will be accompanied by a delegation of Egyptian businessmen, food commodities exporters, and agricultural products manufacturers, Youm7 reported Monday.
Nour will attend intense meetings with major food suppliers and Russian hypermarket and supermarket chain owners to reach for more export deals in the upcoming period.
“Egypt seeks to open new horizons for export and investment worldwide, not only with Russia,” head of the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies Rashad Abdo told The Cairo Post Monday.
“Egypt is in a dire need of partnership with Russia since it has been suffering an energy crisis for over a year with daily power cuts. We will build our first nuclear power plant, which is expected to boost the national capacity to generate power,” he said.
Before heading to Russia, Nour is scheduled to meet with the Egyptian businessmen who are accompanying him to discuss doubling export deals with Russia in the next stage. “Egypt should take advantage of such opportunities and increase the volume of Egyptian products available in the Russian market,” Nour said. The ministry is now researching Russian imports from Poland and the Netherlands as a step to replace them with Egyptian products.
Russia’s strength is represented in four core aspects as the world’s second-biggest wheat exporter, world’s largest natural-gas producer, world’s second largest supplier of weaponry after the U.S., and as a pioneering country in nuclear energy, Abdo said.
“Such partnership with a country like Russia will serve Egypt inspirational willingness, including major developmental projects, boosting the nuclear field, achieving sustainable development, and obtaining military and food security,” Abdo told The Cairo Post.
When asked what Russia gets in return of Egypt’s exporting deal, Abdo said “Russia seeks to maintain its presence in the Middle East since it has only one military base there in the port of Tartus, Syria.”
Russian investments in Egypt amounted to $65.62 million in Jan. 2013 with 383 investing companies, according to the Egyptian State Information Service (SIS). Meanwhile, Egyptian investments in Russia amounted to $13.7 million in Dec. 2012, also according to SIS.
President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi visited Russia on Aug. 12 in his first official visit to Moscow after being inaugurated on June 8. He reached a deal with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin to create a free trade zone with Eurasian countries and a Russian industrial zone in Egypt.
On July 29, the U.S. and E.U. accused Russia of military intervention in the Ukraine crisis and urged Putin to stop supporting separatist fighters with tanks, armored vehicles, and rocket launchers. Since then, the E.U. agreed to impose economic sanctions on Russia. In a retaliatory step, Putin ordered a ban on agricultural imports from the E.U. on Aug. 7, France 24 reported.
L'Egypte a assuré mardi "suivre de près" les émeutes de Ferguson où un policier a tué un jeune noir aux Etats-Unis, qui avaient utilisé le même langage diplomatique quand le Caire réprimait dans le sang des manifestations islamistes.
Depuis que le président islamiste Mohamed Morsi a été destitué en juillet 2013 par l'ex-chef de l'armée et actuel président égyptien Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, ses partisans sont la cible d'une sanglante répression. Plus de 1400 manifestants pro-Morsi ont été tués en quelques mois, dont la moitié en une seule journée au Caire le 14 août 2013.
"Nous suivons de près l'escalade des manifestations dans la ville de Ferguson et les réactions qu'elles suscitent", a indiqué le porte-parole du ministère affaires étrangères Badr Abdelatti dans un communiqué.
M. Abdelatti a également relayé un appel à la retenue lancé par le secrétaire général de l'ONU Ban Ki-Moon. La position de M. Ban "représente la position de la communauté internationale vis-à-vis de ces évènements, en particulier l'appel à la retenue et le droit au rassemblement pacifique", a estimé M. Abdelatti.
La terminologie utilisée par le ministère des Affaires Etrangères égyptien n'est pas sans rappeler celle des Etats-Unis, qui ont assuré à plusieurs reprises "suivre de près" la situation des manifestations au Caire et les procès visant notamment la quasi-totalité des dirigeants de la confrérie des Frères musulmans de M. Morsi, qui encourent la peine de mort. Plus de 15 000 Frères Musulmans et sympathisants ont également été emprisonnés en Egypte tandis que des centaines ont été condamnés à mort dans des procès de masse expéditifs.
The Ministry of Housing set a number of infrastructure and service projects at the Canal governorates Suez, Port Said, and Ismailia with a total value of 1 billion EGP, Minister of Housing Mustafa Madbouly announced Sunday.
These projects were created to cope with the current developmental projects in Suez Canal region and Sinai reconstruction, Al-Mal Business daily reported Sunday.
Construction bodies already embarked on executing the developmental projects and that a large number of these projects will be executed by the end of Dec. 2014 and the rest will be completed early 2016.
“By executing such projects, the ministry aims to serve major developmental projects in the region, including the Suez Canal expansion and the Suez Canal Axis Developmental projects,” Madbouly said. Developmental projects in the area will include new roads, bridges, electricity plants, and housing units.
On Aug. 5 during presidential orientations, more than forty construction companies embarked on digging a new branch in the Suez Canal to raise its revenues to $13.5 billion by 2023, Al-Ahram reported.
The length of the new branch will be 34 kilometers, aiming to shorten the waiting period for vessels in the lakes’ area.
The government is set to soon embark in executing a project to develop Suez with a total cost of 50 billion EGP to begin within six months, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab was quoted as saying in an interview with Al-Nahar on Aug. 6.
Such projects are a “quantum leap” for Egypt and would help in curbing the economic crisis, founding member of Popular Front of the Suez Canal Axis (PESCA) Ashraf Dewidar told CNBC Arabia Sunday.
“It’s a comprehensive project … and will include surrounding governorates such as Port Said, Ismailia, and Suez,” he added and that the project will provide 1.5 million job opportunities and the expected annual revenues in the next seven years might reach $100 billion.