In 2014, the Egyptian government launched a major reform of the ration card system (RCS) through which citizens access food subsidies, shifting from in-kind to cash transfers. Prior to 2014, beneficiaries could buy a set quota of three basic commodities—rice, sugar, and cooking oil—at a very low price (LE10 for about 5.5 kg of food per person). In contrast, the new RCS provides beneficiaries with smart cards credited with a monthly cash allotment of LE50 per person to purchase commodities from ration shops. In addition, the list of available commodities was diversified to include about 30 different goods, among them meat and cheese, but also soap or washing powder. In essence, the RCS’s new design aims at gradually reducing the share of food subsidies in state expenditures.
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