Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1250, (11 - 17 June 2015)
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1250, (11 - 17 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Have you picked up your card?

Car owners are queuing for smart cards across Egypt, hoping to beat the 15 June deadline, reports Mai Samih
 

smart card
smart card
Al-Ahram Weekly

The new smart-card system for subsidised fuel finally goes into effect on 15 June. Before this date all of Egypt’s car owners should have received cards carrying information about their vehicles and allowing them to buy subsidised fuel at petrol stations.
 
The smart cards allow car owners to purchase a set quantity of subsidised petrol and diesel. The system is intended to help monitor consumption patterns per vehicle and act as a deterrent to fuel smuggling.

Registration for the smart cards has been possible over the past two years through a website, www.esp.gov.eg. Those who registered received their cards by post, but because not all car owners registered many still do not have their cards. To resolve this problem the government has made the cards available through the traffic department.

To collect their cards, car owners will need photocopies of their identification card, car licence and driver’s licence. These documents should be handed to a traffic department employee who will be able to issue the already printed smart card on the spot.

However, the last-minute clamour to get the cards has left many people standing in line for hours. Although the cards are already printed, it takes time for clerks to look through boxes filled with smart cards, slowing down their issuance to owners.
 
“They need more people searching for the cards so that people do not suffer standing for long periods of time in the line in the heat,” said one Cairo housewife waiting to get her card.
 
In the event that not everyone is able to get his smart card by 15 June, petrol stations will be responsible for registering the amount of fuel purchased for each vehicle.

While smart cards are being issued for passenger cars, other vehicles, such as tractors, motorcycles, rickshaws and boats, are not being issued with cards and their consumption will be monitored at petrol stations.

Ibrahim Sarhan, head of E-Finance, the company responsible for issuing the cards, was previously quoted as saying that 3.7 million cards had been issued by the beginning of May, and that five million cards, the estimated total number of vehicles in Egypt, was the target announced in 2013 when the project began.

The smart-card system is part of a plan to cut fuel subsidies, which accounted for some 13 per cent of government spending in this year’s budget. Last summer, the government cut fuel subsidies by around LE40 billion when it increased fuel prices by up to 78 per cent.

The move was intended to reduce the budget deficit to 10 per cent of GDP, down from 12.8 per cent the previous year. Although the government had said that cutting fuel subsides further is part of its long-term strategy, no further cuts have been announced for this year.

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