CAIRO: Amid escalating prices, the government vowed to monitor markets in a bid to protect consumers, specifically those living on a fixed budget.
To balance supply and demand and avoid the seasonal price hikes during the holy month of Ramadan – a time when the demand on food commodities skyrockets – the government unveiled plans to increase the supply of meat, poultry, fish, sugar, rice, and yameesh (Ramadan dried fruits) by 15 percent.
“It’s an [attempt] to make sure that you don’t have opportunistic price rises. .It’s a regulation of the market, said Angus Blair, head of research unit at Beltone Financial.
Prices of commodities have not followed the same downward trend as inflation rates – currently recorded at just under 8 percent – particularly after avian flu outbreaks and increasing oil prices. These factors pushed the inflation rate up to 12 percent last winter.
“Once prices rise, they never return to normal levels even if inflation slows down. Adjustment never occurs because markets are not well-regulated, Samir Radwan, executive director of the Egyptian National Competitiveness Council, previously told Daily News Egypt.
Several economists have called on the government to fix prices and monitor markets to put an end to unusual price surges. How the government plans to regulate the market remains vague, particularly amid reluctance to increase subsidies and rumors of an imminent increase in gasoline prices.
Members of the Cabinet were not available to comment on market control mechanisms at press time.
“We need more information [from the government] on how they plan to implement this, said Blair, “Bread, for instance, is an [essential] food commodity that requires subsidy because Egypt is a poor country.