CAIRO- Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Tuesday it is time for the country's subsidised bread to increase in price.
Subsidised bread costs currently 0.05 Egyptian pounds ($0.0032) and 60 million people are allocated five loaves a day under its sprawling subsidy programme.
Sisi did not say how much the price would increase by, but changes to food support are highly sensitive in a country where a decision to cut bread subsidies led to deadly riots across Egypt in 1977.
"It is time for the 5 piaster loaf to increase in price. Some might tell me leave this to the prime minister, to the supply minister to (raise the price), but no, I will do it in front of my country and my people," Sisi said.
"It's incredible to sell 20 loaves for the price of a cigarette," he added, speaking at the opening of a food production facility.
Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer.
"I'm not saying we make it significantly more expensive, to as high as it costs to make it, 65 or 60 piasters, but (increasing the price) is necessary," Sisi said.
"Nothing stays stagnant like this for 20 or 30 years, with people saying that this number can't be touched," he added.
($1 = 15.7000 Egyptian pounds)
(Reporting by Omar Fahmy, writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Louise Heavens and Alison Williams) ((Nafisa.Eltahir@thomsonreuters.com;))