Protests shake Egypt after cut to bread subsidies

 

Protests shake Egypt after cut to bread subsidies

By
Niles Niemuth

8 March 2017

Hundreds of Egyptians in a number of cities, including Alexandria, Minya, Desouk and the working class Imbaba district of Cairo turned out on Tuesday to protest severe cuts to bread subsidies.

Videos posted on social media show hundreds of demonstrators in Alexandria chanting, “We want to eat! We want bread!” Protesters temporarily blocked railways in Alexandria and between Cairo and Minya as part of the demonstrations which were labeled on social media as the Intifada of Supplies.

Minister of Supplies Ali Mosehly announced on Monday that the number of subsidized loaves of bread each ration card holder is allowed to buy per day would be slashed by two-fifths, from five to three. Mosehly, who took over the post following a cabinet shakeup last month after a sever sugar shortage, had complained that, at $28 million a month, the bread subsidy program was too costly.

Following Monday’s announcement, bakeries began refusing paper subsidy cards, instead insisting that they would only provide bread to those with plastic SMART cards which are difficult for the poor to obtain. Additionally, the number of subsidized loaves available at each location was slashed from 1,500 to just 500 a day.

“Most of the families in poor areas have paper cards. We have been trying for years to get the electronic card, but you have to bribe the employees to follow up,” protester Montaser Awad told Middle East Eye.

Saed, an employee at the Monera al Gharbya government supplies office, explained to Middle East Eye that distributors had been ordered by the government to stop selling bread to those with paper cards: “These types of cards are called the golden cards, which include the paper cards and the poor…

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