Monday,11 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1158, (25 - 31 July 2013)
Monday,11 December, 2017
Issue 1158, (25 - 31 July 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Smart cards on hold?

A week before its scheduled start, the fate of the country’s new smart-card system to rationalise subsidised petrol products is still unclear

Al-Ahram Weekly

According to the original timeframe for the introduction of Egypt’s new smart-card system that is designed to rationalise the use of subsidised petrol products, owners of diesel vehicles were supposed to receive their smart cards starting this month, while car drivers across the country were to receive their cards in August, reports Nesma Nowar.
However, Hossam Arafat, head of the General Division of Petroleum Products at the Federation of Chambers of Commerce, said that it was still too early to know whether Hazem Al-Beblawi’s new government would implement the new smart-card system as the government needed time to study the issue.
Ongoing tensions in the streets made it hard for the government to take the decision, he said.
Arafat ruled out the possibility of introducing the smart-card system before the second half of August. “By then, the holy month of Ramadan will have finished and things will have become clearer,” he said.
An anonymous source at the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) was quoted by the daily Al-Shorouk newspaper last week as saying that the smart-card plan had been put on hold following the 30 June Revolution.
The source said that the EGPC would have to wait until the new government’s policy on energy subsidies had been clarified. He said that the assigned dates for the system’s implementation would most likely be put off until the new cabinet gave the green light to the new system.
Meanwhile, the newly-appointed minister of supply, Mohamed Abu Shadi, told Reuters in an interview last week that the government would go ahead with the smart-card system that had been pushed for by the ousted former government in an attempt to reduce the state’s energy bills.
The programme was part of a bid to rationalise the energy subsides that eat up a fourth of government expenditure.
It was part of the previous government’s economic reform programme that was presented to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in an attempt to obtain a $4.8 billion loan.
The total bill for energy subsidies in Egypt is targeted to reach some LE100 billion in the 2013/14 budget.
A few days before the 30 June Revolution and the ouster of the former president Mohamed Morsi, former prime minister Hisham Kandil announced that the first stage of the system, which oversees the distribution process from fuel depots to petrol stations, had been successfully completed.
It involved issuing smart cards to some 64 depots and 2,600 petrol stations across the country. Some 3,000 points of sales were established in petrol stations, and workers in the sector received training on using the new system.

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