CAIRO, Sept 3 (Aswat Masriya) - Egypt's armed forces are coordinating with the health ministry to provide baby formula at a low price to face a monopolistic market, said the army spokesman on Saturday.
Last Thursday, dozens of mothers demonstrated in Cairo against a hike in prices and severe shortage of baby formula after the Minister of Health announced that the subsidised infant milk will only be available in 1,005 Primary Health Care Units across the country and will not reach any pharmacies as before.
Minister Ahmed Emad said then that the decision was made to combat leaking and unlawful trading of the formula and to make sure that it reaches the people who need it.
But families held protests outside Egyptian Pharmaceutical Trading Company in Cairo demanding an immediate solution for the crisis as some traders exploit the shortage in the milk and sell it at high prices.
In a statement, the army spokesman said that some companies that import the baby formula monopolised the product.
He added that the armed forces in coordination with the health ministry will start importing the baby formula to be supplied in pharmacies at a reduced price of EGP30 instead of EGP60.
The first shipment of the imported formula is set to arrive on Sept 15.
According to the Minister of Health, the state spends EGP 450 million annually to subsidize the milk.
Egypt is currently taking measures to implement an economic reform programme which involves cutting of subsidies and the introduction of other new tax measures, in an attempt to reduce spending and meet conditions for a $12 billion three-year loan programme from the International Monetary Fund.
The loan is still subject to the final approval of the IMF executive committee.