The Ministry of Finance, through the Egyptian Tax Authority (ETA), backed away from increasing taxes on fava beans (ful) and falafel shops and imposing taxes on bean carts, according to a press statement Monday.
“Bean sandwiches are the only thing in this country that is cheap. If the government imposes taxes on the bean carts, they will increase the sandwiches’ prices and we will not able to buy our breakfast every day,” said one man eating in front of one of bean carts.
”My main breakfast meal is bean sandwiches, and I don’t eat after that till go home at 7pm. If they increase the prices, I can’t have breakfast every day because my budget can’t afford this increase,” another man interjected.
The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) submitted a proposal to the ETA to impose a tax increase on beans and falafel shops and restaurants, according to clarification issued Monday by the authority.
The National Centre for the Protection of the Markets and the Consumer (NCFPMAC) – a non-governmental organisation – declared in statement on Monday that Ministry of Finance officials affirmed the rejection of the proposal because the government does not wish to collect any additional taxes on these vital meals, especially for low-income people.
“The authority officials promised to open a formal investigation into the proposed leaking on the authority’s official website,” the centre’s statement read. “Head of the Egyptian Tax Authority Abdel Moneim Matar stressed that the proposal of FEDCOC to amend the regulations of the tax law was verbal, and noissuance of any publication to approve the proposal occurred.”
Imposing taxes on this vital meal could threaten security and social peace as it is linked to very important commodities for citizens, especially with the approaching of Ramadan, in which the consumption of fava beans triples. Bean consumption amounted to EGP 1.8bn during last Ramadan alone, according to the statement.
On the other hand, Minister of Supply Khaled Hanafy presented a proposal to the cabinet aimed at including bean carts to the tax system, estimated at more than two million carts, the centre’s statement added.
Bean cart owner Mohamed El-Sayed Abdel Galil said that vendors would not mind paying taxes in return for legalising their status and providing them with oil and bread subsidies, adding that the subsidy will save the increase in operating cost that will go towards the tax.
“But if the government imposes taxes without providing us with the bread and oil subsidies, we will increase the bean sandwiches’ prices, and this will create burdens on the client,” added Abdel Galil. “If the government insists on imposing taxes without any supply, I suggest that the government hires us to work on the government bean carts, if they have any.”