Eligibility for food subsidy cards tightened

Egypt on Tuesday tightened rules for obtaining food subsidy cards, capping the number of new claimants per family and setting income limits, as it works to reform its bloated economy.

Egypt secured a $12 billion three-year loan with the International Monetary Fund last November, in exchange for implementation of austerity measures — including subsidy cuts and tax hikes.
The reforms will hopefully help attract back investors who fled after the 2011 uprising.

Inflation has soared since the import-dependent country floated its pound currency in November, roughly halving it in value and increasing the population’s reliance on basic subsidized goods such as bread, cooking oil and sugar.

The new subsidy rules do not apply to the country’s existing 20.8 million holders of cards that now help meet the staple food needs of some 68.8 million at an estimated cost to the government of LE85 billion this year.

They are instead targeting new cardholders among a rapidly growing population that stands at around 93.5 million.

The new stipulations set the maximum number of family members eligible per card at four, and thresholds for incomes of LE1,500 per month for full-time workers and for pensions of LE1,200, according to a supply ministry decree.

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