The Egyptian Ministry of Supply is preparing to introduce a new system to distribute subsidised bread to those who need it using national identification (ID) numbers.
A trial run is expected to begin in al-Fayoum province, and will be rolled out to the rest of the country after technical and logistical problems are identified and resolved, officials told Al-Shorfa.
Subsidised bread is currently rationed at 20 loaves per family per day at a cost of one Egyptian pound ($0.14). Non-subsidized bread is available at bakeries for 50 piasters ($0.07) per loaf.
"My family members and I take turns, depending on who is free, to stand in line for subsidised bread each day starting in the early morning hours," said Tawfiq Nagy, who heads a family of six.
"If we're late getting in line, we might miss out on getting our bread ration," he told Al-Shorfa.
When that happens, Nagy buys bread from unsubsidised bakeries, adding that "private bakery bread is bigger and of higher quality".
Nagy believes the subsidised bread distribution system needs to be regulated, as "neither the distribution mechanism is good nor is the quality of the bread acceptable".
Distribution based on the national ID number would prevent bakery owners or any other party that wishes to trade in subsidised bread from exploiting the system, he said.
The plan aims to eliminate waste and attempts by some bakery owners to sell bread on the black market, said Saleh Jaber, development advisor at the bakeries monitoring room at the Ministry of Supply.
This leads to low quality bread on the one hand, and a shortage in supply on the other, he said, forcing people to "buy bread from tourist bakeries, whose prices exceed their purchasing power".
(Waleed Abu al-Khair / Al-Shorfa)
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