Egypt's finance ministry announced on Sunday that one million car owners have so far received fuel smart cards, part of a new system that the government hopes will reduce the country's petrol subsidies. The cards will monitor petrol consumption at the pump which will help direct fuel subsidies to those who need it most and also prevent fuel being leaked onto the black market for illegal sales.
Although no timeline has been specified as to how and when the programme will take effect, 1.3 million car owners have been registered for the cards, according to finance ministry spokesperson Mosbah Qotb.
Government fuel subsidies consumed LE129 billion ($18.5 billion) of the 2012/13 state budget, as compared to LE40 billion ($5.7 billion) in the 2005/06 budget.
“No state budget can bear this burden for long," finance minister Ahmed Galal said at a conference last Thursday. "Cutting down on fuel subsidies will happen. The question is about the right timing for such a politically sensitive issue."
Petroleum minister Sherif Ismail told Al-Ahram last week that that estimates for fuel subsidies for the 2014/15 budget amount to LE140 billion ($20.1 billion).
Some 8,000 workers around the country have already been trained to implement the fuel smart card system at 400 petrol stations.
Back in October, the government had added 1100 heavy-fuel consumers to the system. Among such clients were big construction firms, mobile companies, hospitals, hotels and tourism resorts.
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