Govt postpones butane canisters-for-coupons program

The Cabinet has decided to postpone its coupon-for-canisters project for three weeks to further examine how the project will be implemented. The project has been developed to alleviate the current fuel shortage, and could help the government save nearly LE4 billion in annual expenses.

According to the new program, citizens are given coupons that can be redeemed for butane canisters. The aim is to ensure that the subsidized gas canisters don’t fall into the hands of black market dealers, who engage in price gouging.

General Petroleum Corporation Director Hany Dahy said Wednesday that in a meeting with Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzouri Tuesday with the ministers of petroleum and trade and representatives of different chambers of commerce, the prime minister said the government was not yet ready to implement coupons-for-canisters.

Ganzouri said the program’s implementation will not take place until a viable strategy for the distribution of the coupons is decided, to prevent black market dealers from also taking advantage of the new scheme.

Dahy told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the cabinet will also consider demands by owners of canister depositories that their compensation be increased.

However, a government source said the People's Assembly had sent a letter to the Cabinet asking for the postponement, and urging more deliberation and planning to avoid problems after the enactment of the new project.

The new scheme was supposed to be launched in early May. According to its program, a family with no more than three members would receive three butane canisters every two months, while families with more than three members would get two canisters.

The price of the canister would be LE5 for coupon holders, and LE25 for those buying without coupons.

Supply and Domestic Trade Minister Gouda Abdel Khaleq said he holds the Petroleum Ministry fully responsible for the delay in the application of the new program. The minister told Al-Masry Al-Youm that the Petroleum Ministry has not yet set the commission to be given to depository owners.

Abdel Khaleq said several parties are trying to thwart the project for political purposes. He said he believes Ganzouri to be fully aware of the Petroleum Ministry’s delinquency and other hurdles facing the program.

Edited translation from Al-Masry Al-Youm

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