Sunday,19 August, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1251, (18 - 24 June 2015)
Sunday,19 August, 2018
Issue 1251, (18 - 24 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly


Al-Ahram Weekly

Fuel cards postponed

The government has postponed introduction of the smart-card system for purchasing subsidised fuel. The decision follows a suggestion from President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi that application of the new system, planned to start in mid-June, be delayed “until all the sectors that don’t have the cards are covered.”

Tuk-tuks and agricultural tractors are the main reason behind the postponement, as many drivers do not have driving licences and are thus are not included in the new system, Hamdy Abdel-Azim, spokesperson of the Ministry of Petroleum, told Reuters. The ministries of finance, interior and oil are discussing ways of including tuk-tuks, tractors and other vehicles in the new system, he said, adding that no date has been set to implement the system.

The smart-card system aims at rationalising the use of subsidised fuel by preventing black market sales. Phase one of the new system will measure the inflow and outflow of fuel to petrol stations to stop smuggling. Phase two will see the setting of monthly quotas of subsidised fuel for each car, above which drivers will have to pay market prices.

Fuel subsidies weigh heavily on government finances, a fact that pushed it last year to cut subsidies and increase fuel prices by as much as 78 per cent.

E-finance, the company responsible for producing the new cards, recently said it has produced 5.5 million cards, 50 per cent of which have been delivered.

Inauguration on 6 August

With 85 per cent of the dredging work on the new Suez Canal completed, the waterway will be inaugurated on August 6, Canal Authority chief Mohab Mameesh told a news conference earlier this week. The excavation work is scheduled to finish by July 15. Electronic navigation systems have been installed and pilots are training on simulators equipped with maps of the new canal that will allow two-way traffic.

A consortium led by the UK advertising company WPP, including seven international marketing and communications companies, has been chosen to organise the inauguration ceremony. WPP helped organise the Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC) last March in Sharm El-Sheikh.

A WPP spokesperson told the local channel CBC that the ceremony will cost $30 million, and will be paid for by foreign and local private companies, without any contributions from the government. A promotional campaign will be launched at Egyptian embassies worldwide.

The canal authorities have given few details about the inauguration ceremony, except that President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi will be in attendance, along with world leaders and some 200 celebrities to observe traffic flowing simultaneously north and south through the canal. The government aims to more than double annual canal revenues to $13 billion in less than a decade. Revenues of the canal stood at $5.5 billion last year.

The government also plans to set up a logistics and industrial zone along the canal in the next five years. The area overlooking this vital waterway between Europe and Asia is expected to attract international interest and investment.

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