Minister: Government to introduce cash-or-commodities subsidy system

The government plans to introduce a new system for state subsidies by which citizens can choose between receiving subsidized commodities or cold cash, Finance Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali said on Tuesday.

"Ration card holders will be provided with electronic cards with which they can cash their respective subsidies from ATM machines,” the minister said.

Speaking to the Shura Council's economy committee, Boutros-Ghali lashed out at certain self-employed professionals–such as doctors, lawyers and architects–who, he claimed, did not report their real incomes and thus avoided paying their full taxes.

“Total taxation from this sector did not exceed LE157 million last year, “ he said. “This represents an average of only LE200 per taxpayer.”

Boutros-Ghali warned such professionals against the practice of declining to issue invoices for their services.

“I will send undercover patients to private clinics and they will ask for invoices,” he said. “Those who refuse to provide them will be reported and legal action will be taken against them.”

The minister went on to reject suggestions by some quarters for a progressive tax on high-income businessmen.

“Progressive taxation has failed before,” he said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition.

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