Almost 70 million people in Egypt benefit from ration cards, and are served by the Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade’s consumer outlets across Egypt. With those ration cards, people can receive subsidized food products for them and their families.
This year, the ministry is looking into how to enhance the services provided through its consumer outlets – with the help of the private sector.
Assistant to the Minister of Supply and Internal Trade and board member of the Egyptian Sugar and Integrated Industries Company Kareem Gomaa talks to Business Forward about why the ministry is calling on the private sector to join forces.
Why does the ministry want the private sector to help out in enhancing governmental consumer outlets?
In the framework of the country’s economic movement, we are looking at how to increase the private sector’s contribution to the GDP so that the government becomes the regulator that controls, monitors and facilitates the business environment to make it more attractive for investment. This is how we want to move away from having the government do everything. The main role of the government is to support those in need through ration cards to subsidize food products. We can maximize the benefits of the ministry-affiliated outlets and consumer complexes by bringing in the private sector since it is much better at management given its better tools.
Why do you need to revamp existing consumer outlets?
Some outlets are not up to the standard that we aim for, in terms of the services we provide our customers with and the experience they go through. As the government, we own the complex, so we decided to get one of the privately owned retail supermarket chains that are currently operating in the market to help us improve the services. That is how the government wants to start creating a dilution between itself and the private sector, so that the government can pull out at a certain point.
Who is spearheading the project?
The project is of course under the auspices of the ministry. The ministry’s investment arm Internal Trade Development Authority (ITDA), the Food Industries Holding Company and the private sector are partnering up to see it through. We offer the project of one consumer outlet to a number of private sector supermarket and hypermarket chains and then we sit down to listen to them and sign the contract. We will start with a pilot project and if it proves its success, we will expand to other outlets.