The government is set to distribute about 1 million fuel subsidy smartcards to diesel consumers and about 5 million cards to petroleum consumers, as a part of the second phase of its smartcard programme, said Finance Minister Ahmed Galal in a Sunday press release.
The distribution, slated for July and August, will be carried out electronically and the government has emphasised that there will be no limits on consumption.
The subsidy card project, which aims to distribute 11 million cards, would charge the ministries of petroleum and mineral resources, represented together in the General Petroleum Authority, with implementing and overseeing the programme for the National Bank of Egypt (NBE) and Ahly banks, as well as the E-Finance Company.
According to a report by the finance ministry, those who wish to obtain cards must register on one of a number of newly-launched websites, including www.esp.gov.eg. After filling out personal information, users would be asked to choose a distribution location to pick up their smartcard, which will be provided free of charge to vehicles and truck drivers.
After registering on the website, fuel consumers can obtain their cards from providers including Agriculture Credit Bank (ACB), traffic units and post offices, along with private and governmental institutions, which are expected to collect data from their employees to help them obtain their cards.
The new subsidy cards system aims to curb petroleum smuggling, which caused government revenue losses amounting to 30% of the subsidies budget. This is to be achieved through better oversight of supply facilities and transportation of petroleum materials, the statement read.
The project is also aimed at restructuring the fuel subsidy system, which is costing Egypt billions of pounds, officials said.
The project will also seek to establish a more accurate system of financial settlements between the ministries of finance and petroleum, in order to ascertain the exact daily fuel usage by station so that the government can allot an appropriate subsidy.
In June, speaking at a press conference in the headquarters of the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation in Maadi, former prime minister Hisham Qandil said that about 18,000 cards had been distributed during the first phase of the programme.
According to a new budget announced in the now-dissolved Shura Council by the former finance ministry, the state is expected in 2013 to pay EGP 120bn for subsidies, but with smart card system, this may fall to EGP 100bn the following fiscal year.