CAIRO: The Ministry of Social Solidarity will begin distributing electronic ration cards next week to families with monthly incomes below LE 1,000 and people receiving pensions under LE 750.
Sources inside the ministry told Daily News Egypt on Thursday that they are working out the final details with the Ministry of Administrative Development and the distribution is expected to begin in a matter of days.
Even though the new electronic system is supposed to make procedures easier for the people, not everyone is excited about it.
“Everything new in the country has to have a rough start. It may be much easier later on but the beginning is always difficult and may even be frustrating as the civil servants and citizens get familiar with this new system and how it operates,” said Morsi Abdel Hamid, a former postman who receives a pension less than LE 750.
A source inside the Ministry of Social Solidarity, who preferred to remain anonymous because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said that they are expecting to face some challenges in the beginning especially that citizens are not familiar with an electronic system.
The Egyptian e-government program ranks 28 worldwide in terms of quality, based on a research by the United Nations released in 2008. Yet, not many Egyptians know about it.
Thus, the Egyptian Non-governmental Organizations (NGO) Support Center has been working on the project “Raising Awareness of the E-government Services.”
“The NGOs’ [campaigns will] have two objectives. First, to make computer users know about the e-government services so they can use them. And second, those who can’t use a computer come to them to help them gain access to these services,” explained Mahmoud El Bably, project manager.
In spite of the enthusiasm, other government announcements have indicated that these electronic ration cards might face further delays.
Butane gas cylinders, whose shortage had created several crises this year, are expected to be included in the items provided by the new ration cards. According to official news portal egynews.net, the ministerial council has requested from the Ministry of Administrative Development that this addition be ready by December 2010.
This means that the system won’t start full operations any time before January 2011 as the responsible ministries have not yet agreed upon the final layout of the new electronic system, egynews.net quoted an unidentified official source as saying.
The source also noted ongoing discussions on whether or not to use both the electronic rations cards along with the traditional subsidy coupons.