The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce (FEDCOC) denounced the Ministry of Supply and its Investigation Bureau for confiscating food commodities found in storage, with traders or in factories.
Over the past few weeks, the Investigation Bureau at the Supply Ministry has been raiding factories, stores, and storage spaces, confiscating the goods it finds—especially sugar, rice, and oil—alleging to control the market. FEDCOC said in a press release on Saturday that those raids violate the law and the Constitution, describing the confiscation as “unlawful”.
The statement argued that the law allows the trading of the commodities that had been confiscated. Moreover, it added that the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) and the Food Industries Holding Company both stock and hold on to goods for months, keeping them in storage with the label ‘strategic stocks’. The statement urged the general prosecutor to follow the same protocol with both government entities for monopoly.
FEDCOC said that stored goods could be inputs for production at factories or free goods bought by wholesale traders, which labels them as private ownership in the Constitution.
Head of the Federation, Ahmed El-Wakil, said that the Constitution Article 35 provides ownership rights, and thus, the acquisition and ownership of goods is not prohibited. However, the confiscation and expropriation of goods is prohibited, unless a court order implies otherwise. Moreover, he noted that taking privately owned property for the sake of public goods must be at fair compensation, paid in advance in accordance with the law.
El-Wakil also noted that Article 36 of the Constitution obliges the state to simulate the private sector to serve the national economy, while, at the same time, protect their economic production, increase their competitiveness, and ensure an attractive investment climate, as per Article 28.
“There is no such thing as supply commodities,” El-Wakil said. “Factories, of course, keep inputs stored according to their needs, production size, and purchase policies and mechanisms,” he added.
He argued that rice mills, for instance, will always have a portion of processed or unprocessed rice in-store, subject to possible distribution or processing. Trucks carrying sugar are transporting these goods from one trader to another, and stores keep goods in storage to fill their shelves when they go dry, he said.