About 90 % of Egypt’s main commercial users of petroleum products have begun using electronic smart cards for fuel purchases, the company contracted for the project designed to reduce costly energy subsidies said on Monday.
The government hopes the programme, launched during ousted President Mohamed Mursi’s year in office, will allow authorities to analyse fuel consumption data before enacting reforms to the wasteful subsidy system.
Cement and telecoms companies along with power stations are the major commercial users of petroleum products that have begun using smart cards, E-Finance President Ibrahim Sarhan told a news conference.
Another key part of the programme would see motorists use the cards to buy gasoline and diesel at fuel stations.
The government had said the system for fuel purchases by drivers would be operational by May, but it has yet to be introduced. The “points of sale” are in place at fuel stations across the country, according to E-Finance, but many drivers have yet to sign up and obtain cards.
Suez Cement CEO Bruno Carre told Reuters his company has been using the smart cards for “business-to-business delivery of gasoline and diesel for several months”. The products are used for trucks that transport cement out of the factories and movement of the trucks inside its plants.
He said that other cement companies operating in Egypt were also using the cards for the business-to business purchases.
Fuel subsidies make up a fifth of state spending, but one cash-strapped government after another has resisted attacking the system, fearful that raising fuel prices could spark unrest.
Energy prices in Egypt are among the lowest in the world.
Oil Minister Sherif Ismail kept his position in a cabinet reshuffle on Monday.