Monday,17 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1348, (8 - 14 June 2017)
Monday,17 June, 2019
Issue 1348, (8 - 14 June 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Updating the ration-card system

Ration-card holders have until 30 June to update their data, reports Mona El-Fiqi

Citizens line up to get their monthly share of subsidised food commodities
Citizens line up to get their monthly share of subsidised food commodities

Government plans to update Egypt’s ration-card system come with a commitment to alleviate the economic burdens on families and achieve social justice.

The Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade is currently revising the ration-card system that includes some 20 million cards serving around 70 million members of the population. Cardholders finding the words “please update your information” on their receipts are requested to update their personal information.

Minister of Communications Yasser Al-Qadi said at a press conference that 60 million Egyptians benefiting from the system had already had their data updated on the Ministry of Supply’s smart system. The remaining nine million are requested to update their data. In order to do so, they should visit their local supply office to fill out a free application and submit the requested information. The update can also be done through the Ministry of Supply’s website, and cardholders have until 30 June to update their data. They risk losing their cards if they do not do so.

 The new database will connect Ministry of Supply data to other state databases, and the government has stressed the importance of updating the database to ensure that food subsidies go to the most deserving. The aim of the move, according to the Ministry of Supply, is to remove anomalies and those registered on more than one card.

Sahar Abdel-Alim, the mother of three children and a ration cardholder, told Al-Ahram Weekly that she had updated her data. “I went to the supply office, where I received an application free of charge and a list of documents that needed to be submitted,” Abdel-Alim said. She added that it had been an easy task to collect the papers, including her children’s IDs and a recent electricity bill, and submit them to the nearest post office.

In 2014, the government introduced smart cards to millions of beneficiaries entitling them to a monthly ration worth LE15 per individual in addition to five loaves of bread a day at the subsidised price of LE0.05 a loaf. In a bid to compensate for food price hikes in December 2016, the government decided to increase the amount allocated to individuals holding subsidy cards from LE15 to LE21 per month. This increase has increased the annual cost of food subsidies in the state budget from LE44 billion to LE50 billion, according to figures from the Ministry of Finance.

This Ramadan, the government has decided to allocate an extra LE1 billion to increase the subsidies on the cards. The increase, estimated at LE14 per individual, will last throughout the month of June.

Since mid-2014 when the smart-card system was launched, the government has tried to replace the older paper cards with smart cards in the interests of efficiency. The Ministry of Supply said recently that it would be distributing 100,000 new cards in eight governorates following a problem distributing bread with the old cards.

To speed up the issuing of the smart cards, the government announced a few months ago that the Military Production Ministry will be responsible instead of the Ministry of Supply. The decision was attributed to the need to speed up the issuing of the new cards, replace lost or damaged cards, and provide the appropriate terminals for bakeries and grocery stores.

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