After decades of ration cards: Egypt makes first step to eliminate in-kind subsidies



Sun, 26 Dec 2021 - 02:11 GMT


Sun, 26 Dec 2021 - 02:11 GMT

Food staples – Wikimedia Commons

Food staples – Wikimedia Commons

CAIRO – 26 December 2021: In less than a week after President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi's instructions to not issue new ration cards and limit the number of beneficiaries per an existing ration card to just two, the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade announced Sunday the type of in-kind subsidies a family would be getting per month.




It is noted that ration cards are issued for families, covering the husband, wife, and – formerly - children, if any, but not individuals. That is because single adults can still get in-kind subsidies through their parents, given that they mostly do not move out until they get married.


A ration card currently grants four kilograms of sugar, two or 1.6 liters of cooking oil, and one kilogram of rice. Given that the ration card secures credit worth LE50 ($3.1) per individual, now a maximum of LE100 per family, beneficiaries can use the rest of the allocation to purchase any item of the following: pasta, flour, cheese, vanaspati, vinegar, salt, detergents, tahini, tomato paste, biscuits, and halva.


Substituting Monetary Subsidies for In-kind Subsidies


The decision is aligned with the state's endeavors to control overpopulation, and fulfill the goals of the economic reform program launched in 2016, where the beginning was with currency floatation and the gradual cancelation of energy subsidies.  


In turn, a monetary subsidies program was introduced a year later so that there are now 3.4 million families enrolled as beneficiaries.


Takaful wa Karama provides conditional family income support aimed at increasing food consumption, reducing poverty, while encouraging families to keep children at school and providing them with needed health care.

Along with ensuring that vulnerable families receive basic nutrition, the goal is to build the human capital of the next generation and give them a path out of poverty.

The program is "conditional", meaning that households receive a monthly transfer of LE 325 providing they are compliant with certain clearly defined requirements.

These include all household children should be aged 6-18 and have at least an 80 percent school attendance record, four visits per year to health clinics by mothers and children below the age of 6, where child growth monitoring records are maintained, and nutrition awareness sessions are attended.

The sessions help promote better child feeding practices, regular immunizations, and antenatal and postnatal care of women. Households are given additional support for every 0-6 year-old child (LE 60), primary stage student (LE 80), preparatory stage student (LE 100) and secondary stage students (LE 140).

The program covers a maximum of 3 children per household and certifies beneficiaries every three years.


Minister of Social Solidarity has also stated that 6.5 million students receive monetary subsidies. Five million of those belong to families enrolled in Takaful w Karama (Arabic for Solidarity and Dignity) monetary subsidies program.


The minister added that 50,000 Takaful w Karama students went to university this year. Hence, the ministry paid their tuition, and is giving them a monthly stipend worth LE200 ($12.5).


Qabaj added that the ministry is setting a plan to impose penalties on Takaful w Karama families that withdraw their children from schools, unless they have a valid reason. In that case, help will be offered to mitigate such cause.



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