On Tuesday, Egypt announced that it would begin rationing subsidized bread in an attempt to curb their severe budget deficit. Egypt’s poor who rely on the bread for subsistence aren't too happy with this move. Shortly after the announcement, hundreds of bakers protested in the streets of Cairo.
Supply Minister Bassem Ouda said the government would start rationing “after two months.” Trials of a rationing system using electronic cards will begin soon in the city of Port Said and its suburb Port Fouad. Citizens will need a ration card if they would like access to the subsidized bread. Ouda failed to mention how many loaves ration card holders would have access to.
Daniel Greenfield of FrontPage magazine wittingly said, "(1) Egypt is out of money. It’s even out of other people’s money. (2) The Muslim Brotherhood is in a prolonged conflict with the Egyptian police, soccer fans and now bakers. (3) The Egyptian revolution largely happened because of a spike in the price of bread."
The largely simplified information presented above has caused a significant trouble for the Egyptian Government under the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi. Rationing the subsidized bread will undoubtedly cause more protest from bakers eager to make a profit as well as from the country’s poor who rely on the bread daily (currently, families are granted three loaves a day; however, this limit is rarely enforced).
Furthermore, while rationing the bread will aid the budget deficit, many feel that eliminating the subsidy all together will best aid the struggling economy; however, not surprisingly, such an action would undoubtedly cause outrage from Egyptian people as bread prices soar. Food supply has long been an explosive issue in Egypt. Curbs on bread subsidies provoked riots in 1977 and, as recently as 2008, President Hosni Mubarak faced protests over bread shortages.
Egypt is currently struggling to guarantee an IMF loan, which will undoubtedly help the country in the short-term; however, a long-term solution addressing the budget deficit as well as food shortages seems far off.