Sun | Jul 15, 2018

Sharp increases in fuel prices, as part of austerity measures

Published:Sunday | June 17, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this June 2017, photo, taxi drivers chat as they refuel their vehicles at a gas station in Cairo, Egypt.

CAIRO (AP):

Egypt announced yesterday steep increases in fuel and cooking gas prices as part of the country's economic reforms and austerity measures designed to overhaul the ailing economy.

The new prices, up to 50 per cent increases in some cases, went into effect yesterday morning, the Ministry of Oil said in a statement.

The authorities also raised transportation fares by up to 20 per cent yesterday, according to state-run news agency MENA.

This is the third time the government has increased fuel prices since austerity measures were announced late 2015. The move is likely to send prices soaring further.

 

HOLY MONTH

 

The authorities made the increases as Egyptians have been celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that comes at the end of the holy month of Ramadan.

They likely fear the hikes could cause protests similar to when dozens of people demonstrated against an increase in fares for the Cairo metro in May.

Citizens took to social media to protest the price hikes; authorities banned all unauthorised demonstrations nearly five years ago.

The hikes come as Egypt presses ahead with a broader economic reform programme that has included slashing subsidies, imposing a value-added tax and a currency flotation.

The measures were aimed at qualifying for a three-year $12 billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund, which Egypt secured in 2016.

The tough austerity measures have won praise from economists and business leaders but have come as a heavy blow to poor and middle-class Egyptians.

Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the architect of the economic reforms - which none of his predecessors dared implement - defended his government's decision to slash subsidies. He urged Egyptians to be patient as the reforms take effect.

"If we want to become a real nation, we must suffer pain and endure hardships," he said. "We have to pay the price together," said the president.