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The government has no intention of shifting food subsidies to monetary plans, Minister of Supplies and Internal Trade Mohamed Abu Shadi told state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) Friday.

Abu Shadi said some 18 million cards have been allocated for subsidized supplies, benefiting around 69 million citizens.

Food and energy subsidies, including bread, amount to LE35 billion, the minister added.

His comments were made in response to rumors he says have been circulating by mobile phone, claiming that the ministry has initiated an agreement with subsidized food distributors to gradually implement monetary subsidies.

The ministry "is facing a war of rumors by certain political entities to spread chaos and destabilize the country ahead of voting on the upcoming draft constitution," Abu Shadi claimed.

He added that a new plan will be implemented on food subsidies, which gives citizens the option of receiving their allocated shares of subsidized rice, sugar and oil from authorized distributors, or receiving food at the same value from other supermarkets, who will be included in the plan.

Abu Shadi stressed that the new initiative is not mandatory, and that citizens will have the right to choose the plan that best suits them.

Currently, the subsidies allocated per citizen every month are being audited to determine the amount of food that could be given to those opting into the new plan, he says, adding that the process of adding supermarkets to the list is ongoing.

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