One is every three families would be willing to give up their subsidy card, according to a survey conducted by Egyptian Centre for Opinion Research (Baseera) on Saturday.
According to Baseera, eight in every 10 Egyptian families has a subsidy card. Lower Egypt has the highest number of subsidy cards, at 89%. Upper Egypt follows with 80% of families owning a card.
In light of impending subsidy cuts by the government, there are two pertinent questions that must be asked: How many of these families are actually to relinquish their subsidy cards? And would it be possible to determine the number of families that qualify for subsidies?
Reham El-Desoky, senior economist at Arqam Capital investment bank in Cairo, said the only reasonably accurate way to find out how many citizens require subsidy cards is by conducting surveys.
She said that surveying declared incomes alone is not sufficient to adequately measure the total income being generated by a person, as many work informally and are paid off the books. Therefore, an obstacle to accurate surveys is being able to measure living conditions against a person’s real total income.
El-Desoky said: “This is why it’s important to know how citizens are really living. If families have their own car or air conditioning, it means they don’t qualify for subsidy cards.”
She believes providing cash subsidies instead of food is more useful for citizens, especially those living in urban areas where people can buy anything they need.
Deciding how much money a family is allocated depends on where they live. Living costs are lower in rural areas across Upper Egypt, unlike more expensive cities such as Cairo or Alexandria.
She noted that rural areas need both cash and food subsidies to ensure those in the poorest areas receive basic food commodities.
Egyptian families tend to be larger in size, as concepts such as contraception and birth control are not widely founded in societal norms. El-Desoky advocates that society change in its propensity towards large families, saying that people should only have as many children as they can afford. “The government should not support more than three children per family,” she said.