Egypt trade, agriculture ministers to appear before House over wheat fraud allegations

02.08.2016

Egypt’s trade and industry minister Tarek Kabil and agriculture minister Essam Fayed will appear Monday evening before the House of Representatives’ committee tasked with investigating alleged "wheat corruption," committee member and MP Yasser Omar told Al-Hayat TV channel late Sunday.

The supply ministry had said that up to 5 million tonnes of local wheat were procured this season for the ministry (15 April - 15 June) and that it paid farmers EGP 14 billion for this harvest season's wheat, according to Al-Mal newspaper.

The unusually high amount of procured wheat prompted investigations due to discrepancies between what was reported as procured and the actual amounts of wheat stored at silos.

On Sunday, the House’s investigative committee said missing wheat worth EGP 1.2 billion was recorded as supplied, following inspections by the committee and other supervisory authorities, MP Omar told Al-Borsa.

Supply minister Khaled Hanafy said at a hearing before the House committee on Sunday that the violations amounted to 4-4.5% of the wheat harvest collection.

The supply ministry opened investigations into the matter, Hanafy had said last month, adding that silo owners could be sued for the missing wheat, he told Yahdoth fi Masr programme on MBC Masr.

The committee is also investigating alleged corruption related to the counterfeiting of bread smart cards, which are part of the food subsidies programme, by employees at a private company contracted by the planning ministry to issue the cards, Omar added.

The counterfeiting cost the state billions of Egyptian pounds, including EGP 209 million in one case filed by the supply prosecution 10 days ago, Omar said.

Planning minister Ashraf El-Araby appeared before the House’s committee Sunday over the bread smart card corruption allegations.

El-Araby said the planning ministry only offers technical and technological support for the wheat subsidy system which is done electronically, while the decision to manage the smart cards is entirely up to the ministry, MENA reported.

The House committee and supervisory authorities had conducted field visits for 20 days at random wheat silos in July for a recount of wheat storage.

The committee is expected to issue a report on the investigations in less than 10 days.

 


ahram

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