CAIRO, Egypt: It is time to increase the price of Egypt’s subsidized bread, according to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, revisiting this issue for the first time since 1977, when then president Anwar Sadat reversed a price rise due to resulting riots.
El-Sisi made his announcement this week, but did not specify the details of any potential price increase. Any changes to the food support system of the world’s largest wheat importer would be highly sensitive.
“Bread” was the first word in the signature slogan chanted during the 2011 uprising, which unseated former president Hosni Mubarak.
Bread is currently sold at 0.05 Egyptian pounds ($0.0032) per loaf to more than 60 million Egyptians, who are allocated five loaves per day as part of a subsidy programme.
“It is time for the 5 piaster loaf to increase in price. Some might tell me to leave this to the prime minister or the supply minister. But no, I will do it in front of my country and people,” El-Sisi said at the opening of a food production plant.
“I am not saying we should make it significantly more expensive to as high as it costs to make, 65 or 60 piastres. However, increasing the price is necessary. Nothing stays stagnant like this for 20 or 30 years, with people saying that this price cannot be changed,” he added.
El-Sisi originally aimed to cut back Egypt’s massive subsidy program by targeting those viewed to be sufficiently wealthy, while leaving bread prices untouched.
“The decision is right and comes at an appropriate time. It will help us end old practices and customs. The president has always been afraid of touching bread prices, fearing the outcry of the poor,” said Hussein Abu Saddam, Head of the Farmer’s Syndicate.