Egypt faces bread shortages

Posted in Business + Economy, Egyptian Affairs, Politics + Diplomacy, Science + Health by expresscheckout on 17 March, 2008

Egypt army to tackle bread crisis 
BBC News
March 17, 2008

Egypt’s president has ordered the army to increase the production and distribution of bread, in an attempt to cope with serious shortages.

Rising prices and alleged corruption have sparked recent clashes at bakeries in poorer neighbourhoods, leading to several deaths. Hosni Mubarak said eradicating bread queues was “imperative”. The army and interior ministry control numerous bakeries normally used to supply bread for troops and police. Mr Mubarak issued his order to the army at a meeting of cabinet ministers on Sunday that was called to address the growing crisis, his spokesman said. “Bread should be provided to the citizens and the lines should disappear,” Suleiman Awwad quoted Mr Mubarak as saying.

The price of wheat has more than tripled on international markets since last summer. Mr Mubarak has ordered the government to use some foreign reserves to buy additional wheat from the international market, the spokesman said. Many of Egypt’s 70m population, about half of whom live below the poverty line, survive on subsidised bread. Unsubsidised bread is 10-12 times more expensive than the subsidised five-piaster loafs (less that $0.01).

‘Government subsidized bread for sale’, by Khaled El Fiqi
March 11, 2008 in Cairo, Egypt

Caption: Egyptians stand in queue to purchase government subsidized bread which sells for 1 US cent a loaf in front of a bakery in Cairo, Egypt. About 45 percent of the population survives on just two US dollars a day and that is one reason trying to buy subsidized bread can be a difficult and potentially dangerous affair. Last week two people were killed after a dispute brought out at a bakery. Egypt started subsidizing staples like bread, sugar and tea around World War II, and has done so ever since.  


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