Friday,22 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1121, 8-14 November
Friday,22 February, 2019
Issue 1121, 8-14 November

Ahram Weekly

Show your coupon

A new system for distributing butane gas cylinders through coupons is now in effect in some Greater Cairo districts. Ahmed Kotb experienced first hand how it works

Al-Ahram Weekly

The government started, last week, to distribute subsidised butane gas cylinders through coupons to those who hold ration cards in the districts of Ausime and Al-Saff in Giza. The new system will later be applied in all of Egypt’s governorates after evaluating the process one month from now.
About 17 million Egyptian families are expected to benefit from the coupons system that aims to ensure that funds allocated for subsidies target those who need them. It also aims to eradicate the black market that drove the price of one canister up to LE70 when the official price was until recently LE2.5. According to the coupons system, a registered family of four or more will get two canisters per month. A canister now costs LE4.
A few days into applying the new system in the two districts of Giza, Al-Ahram Weekly was on the ground to witness the pros and cons.
To start with, queues persist. Starting at 9am people line up in front of the butane cylinders warehouses to receive their share. But for the first time, there were no fights between people and everything seemed more organised than usual.
Ration cardholders wait in line to register their names with Supply Ministry inspectors who then give out the coupons by which citizens can get their quota.
“I feel good just to know that I will not be a victim of the black market anymore,” said Mohamed Reda, a ration cardholder with a family of six. He added that two canisters per month would be enough for his family needs.
Reda also stated that it was a wise decision by officials to present the option of delivering the canisters to homes for an extra LE5. “This will help mitigate the problem of long queues at warehouses.”
Many other citizens appeared pleased with the new system and said there are no fights at the doors of the warehouses because they know that everyone will get their share of butane cylinders.
However, another group were not so happy.
“There were no awareness campaigns to inform us about the new system, and many people do not know the process by which they get their canisters,” said Ibrahim Abdel-Tawab, a citizen of Ausime, adding that he went, at first, to the ration grocery store to get the canister but its owner told him to go to the Supply Bureau, which sent him to the warehouse.
“It would have been much easier and more organised if ration cardholders get the coupons from grocery stores before coming to the warehouses to receive their canisters,” said a warehouse owner who preferred to remain anonymous. It would ease the congestion at the warehouses caused by two queues, one to register with the inspector and the other to receive the canisters, he said.
Supply inspectors are present all day at the warehouses, confirmed Ausime’s ration cardholders, to give out coupons to beneficiaries who then go to the warehouse owner to get their share.
There was also a state of confusion among some citizens who thought that everyone would get only one canister, regardless of family size. “It is unfair to supply a family of 10 with only one canister per month,” said Amal Sayed, who learned afterwards that she would get two canisters.
Some others said they need more than two butane gas canisters each month to meet their cooking and heating needs, especially with the winter season around the corner.
Fathi Mahmoud, a Supply Ministry inspector at one warehouse in Ausime, said that those who complain about the quantity of canisters allocated for ration cardholders each month could be using these canisters for commercial purposes.
Nonetheless, he admitted that the system needs fine-tuning. He pointed out that government regulations for the coupons system stipulate that a family of three or less gets a canister and a half, something he does not yet know how to apply. “Instead, I give a ration cardholder with three family members registered a coupon for one canister. That’s according to the oral instructions I received from my superiors,” he said.
Government officials announced that the trial period of 30 days aims at evaluating the new coupons system in order to solve any problems and complaints that appear before applying the system to other parts of the country.
Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Osama Kamal announced that strategic reserves of butane gas currently stand at 10 days of supply, up from only one day in August, a situation that often leads to shortages.

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