Egypt's decision to free the flour prices is a daring step to combat trading in the black market, but the move, re-enacting an old policy, may look better on paper than in application.
Despite a failure in 2006, the Egyptian government is confident that a comeback of the measure will eventually encourage bakeries' to produce more bread, a daily staple food for Egyptians, instead of selling subsidized flour in the black market for profit.
Most notably, Minister of Supply and Domestic Trade, Bassem Ouda, asserted that the new system will bring the government huge revenues, deliver the subsidies to those who deserve them, and prevent squandering of the public fund.
Ahmed Khorshid, a member of Bread Developing Committee, deemed the system as an urgent step aiming at getting rid of the black market and regulating sales, while noting its work will take time like any new system would.
He also pointed out that citizens' awareness is vital to the successful implementation of this measure, particularly the bakery owners' willingness to accept it.
This policy will not affect "honest bakery owners" as it targets those who sell state-subsidized flour in the black market, Khorshid told Xinhua.
According to Attyah Hamad, vice president of the Bakery Branch in the Commerce Chamber, the governmental inspectors had found some bakery owners selling subsidized flour sacks (70 kg) for 14. 81 U.S. dollars while getting it from the government for 2.37 dollars.
However, Abdullah Ghorab, president of the chamber, expressed sympathy with the bakery owners. He said the flour black market is not a phenomenon that only exists in Egypt, and that Egyptian bakery owners are going to have a hard time under the new policy.(...)