Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1121, 8-14 November
Tuesday,23 April, 2019
Issue 1121, 8-14 November

Ahram Weekly

12pm it is

The dispute over shop closing hours has been resolved, for now, reports Mona El-Fiqi

Al-Ahram Weekly

A meeting Sunday between government officials and board members of the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Commerce (EFCC) put an end to a growing controversy over shop closing times.
In response to EFCC demands, the government agreed to postpone the implementation of a decree that stipulates shops close at 10pm to save electricity.
According to a press release issued Monday by the EFCC, the government agreed to apply the decree gradually starting 1 December.
Prime Minister Hisham Kandil approved changes presented by the EFCC board, which is to close commercial shops in cities at 12pm while shops in villages will close at 11pm. Shop owners have to turn off shop window lights at 10pm. As for restaurants and coffee shops, opening hours will be extended to 2am for take away services only. Seated service will not be provided after 12am.
The deadline for noisy repair shops will be at 9pm while pharmacies are excluded from the decree. According to the EFCC press release, all shops are free to close at anytime on Thursday and Friday.
Starting 1 January 2013, the beginning of the winter season, shops will close an hour earlier until the end of April when the winter season ends.
By the beginning of summer, there may be another change depending on the results of field studies to be conducted by Alexandria, Cairo, Delta, and Upper Egypt universities.
The squabble over closing times began a few weeks ago when the board of governors issued a decree stipulating that shops across the country shut down at 10pm starting 1 November 2012. The aim was to save energy since Egypt is suffering a shortage in electricity, particularly in summer. The EFCC, representing four million traders and producers, rejected the decision saying it would negatively affect internal trade and raise unemployment. The decision was also opposed by some experts who said that restoring security, upgrading the electricity network and putting an end to corruption are prerequisites to implementing the law.
But even the government’s backing off from the decision did not go without criticism. Some observers saw it as a sign of weakness and inability to enforce the law.
Refaat Al-Said, head of the Tagammu Party, believes that regulating internal trade is important. He pointed out that the shortage of electricity is a real problem and results in injustice as some villages have no electricity while shops keep their lights on most of the night. Al-Said explained that the problem would never be solved by a “stupid administrative decree”, but that there should be a comprehensive policy to spread the spirit of regulation across society as a whole.
The new closing hours proposal followed extensive discussion between Minister of Industry and Foreign Trade Hatem Saleh and EFCC board members Sunday. During the meeting, Saleh stressed that developing and regulating trade and improving investment would go hand in hand with rationalising electricity use and maintaining current jobs. Saleh added that these issues are the government’s top priority.
The written decision is currently being prepared in cooperation with the government, according to EFCC Chairman Al-Wakil. He added that the EFCC is keen that its members respect the decision.

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