CAIRO: In a heated confrontation, one month before the end of the current PA session, independent and opposition MPs filed 11 investigation requests to cabinet, hoping but failing to clinch a no confidence vote against the government.
On Sunday, parliament discussed 11 requests, one of which accused the government of “failing to confront monopolistic practices in the cement sector, which, they say have led to hiked prices despite measures taken by the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Independent MP and journalist Moustafa Bakry, said that “foreign companies control around 82 percent of the cement industry in Egypt which had increased the price of cement.
Bakry noted that in recent years the government had awarded 14 new licenses to foreign companies to build cement factories in Egypt, which gave them full control of the market. He also questioned why the government privatized public cement companies that were making profit.
In response, Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid, who had attended the session, said that he “takes full responsibility for the situation of the cement industry.
A few weeks ago, Rachid said in an interview on “Al-Beit Beitak daily talk show that he is planning to give the cement companies some time to revise their pricing strategy.
“If they do not push down their prices, I will open the door to cement imports which will force the companies to decrease their prices, he warned.
Other investigation requests revolved around the huge increase in prices of almost all basic commodities despite the drop in prices worldwide due to the financial crisis.
MPs also lamented the deterioration of the value of the Egyptian pound vis-à-vis international currencies and the rise in unemployment rates.
Rachid again responded by outlining the government’s priorities as being the protection of consumer rights, increasing competitiveness and confronting monopoly, which would, in turn decrease the price of products.
Rachid added that the government will continue to monitor the market to make sure that prices remain within the “normal range. He also indicated that the price of steel as well as food products like beans, rice, sugar, cooking oil, and eggs, have gone down.