Prime Minister: Soaring food prices ‘outside government’s control’

Soaring meat and vegetable prices represented a "seasonal phenomenon" caused by crop damage resulting from poor weather conditions and were "outside the government's control," Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif said on Tuesday.

Nazif made the statements at a press conference held on the sidelines of the inauguration of international wholesale market chain Makro in the urban Qalyubia governorate.

Nazif expressed confidence that prices would stabilize in coming months. He also said that the government was adopting "policies and procedures" aimed at protecting low-income families from the current bout of inflation.

He went on to point out that the government sought to bolster internal trade in an effort to reduce skyrocketing retail prices, noting that an "internal trade boom" would serve to "prevent exploitation and monopoly" and shorten the distance between producers and consumers.

The PM pointed to a number of projects currently underway aimed at developing the region of North Sinai, including the revival of the railway system linking the cities of Arish and Rafah to the Nile Delta, which is scheduled to be completed within two years.

Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid, for his part, blamed high vegetable prices on low productivity. He dismissed the notion that there were any monopolies on foodstuffs, especially tomatoes.

Rachid also said that wholesalers from China, the UK and Turkey would soon be entering the Egyptian market, including a number of discount store chains. The minister added that the government had adopted a strategy aimed at bolstering internal trade between 2010 and 2013.

Rachid went on to note that commercial centers costing a total of LE750 million would soon be built in nine governorates, including Kafr al-Sheikh, Ismailia, Port Said, Fayoum, Beni Sueif, Minya, Luxor, Beheira and Alexandria. 

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