Government Launches Local Goods Website to Boost Consumer Spending

The Ministry of Finance reported an estimated loss of EGP 130 billion in its 2019-20 budget, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Egyptian government launched an online database of locally manufactured products in a bid to boost consumer spending to EGP 125 billion last week.

The website offers local and foreign residents of Egypt discounted prices and instalment payments at a lower interest rate on a range of items, such as electronics, home appliances, furniture, and ready-to-wear clothing, with access to a reported 1178 sellers with 4.2 billion products.

The cabinet announced that the products will be sold with up to a 20 percent discount, with a possible rise if the purchase is made with a government ration card.

The ration card discounts will be supplemented through the Public Treasury’s EGP 12.5 billion fund, and according to a Cabinet statement, the fund is set to provide EGP 200 to EGP 1000 in support per individual.

In March, Egyptian research group Pharos released findings naming the textile and electronics sectors among those expected to take a hit amidst the pandemic, due to rationed consumer spending and a drop in global and local demand for non-essential purchases, such as clothing, electronics, and furniture.

The Ministry of Finance reported an estimated loss of EGP 130 billion in its 2019-20 budget, due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the World Bank’s June 2020 Global Economic Prospects report, the country’s GDP growth is expected to take a 50 percent dip; signalling an economic decline.

The President’s initiative aims to encourage local production and incentivise consumption through various partnerships with banks, to facilitate funding and low-interest loans for citizens, government regulated entities, like the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), as well as vendors.

The government also aims to empower consumers by joining the Consumer Protection Agency (CPA) in dealing with citizen product complaints efficiently, according to government sources cited by AlborsaNews.

According to the same source, the six-month program is likely to extend into 2021 if proven successful.

In addition to the website, as part of the response to the covid-19 demand slump, the government announced a new dedicated holding fund to support consumers with up to EGP 2 billion in loans and mortgages, according to Finance Minister Mohamed Maait.

The fund will also be used to support citizens, enabling them to apply for low-interest loans in order to trade any car over 20 years old for a new, dual-fuel vehicle. This is part of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s planned policy that will require any new car to be fitted with a dual-fuel engine in order to operate on natural gas, which is considered to be a renewable resource, as a licensing condition.

Speaking at the project inauguration in early July, as reported by Bloomberg, the president stated that the fuel transformation may reduce a middle-income family’s bills by half, stressing the economic benefits as well as environmental benefits of the transition.