CAIRO — Egypt announced steep increases in fuel and cooking gas prices on Saturday as part of austerity measures intended to overhaul the country’s ailing economy.
This is the third time the government has increased fuel prices since the measures were announced in late 2015. The authorities also raised transportation fares by up to 20 percent on Saturday, according to state-run news agency MENA.
Officials announced the increases as Egyptians were celebrating Eid al-Fitr, the holiday that comes at the end of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. In May, there were small demonstrations against an increase in fares for the Cairo metro.
Egyptians took to social media on Saturday to protest the new price increases. In recent weeks, the authorities have raised metro fares by up to 250 percent, drinking water by up to 45 percent, and electricity by 26 percent.
The increases come as Egypt presses ahead with a broader economic overhaul that has included slashing subsidies and imposing a value-added tax and a currency flotation. The measures are 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.
“While I don’t oppose the economic reforms, they could be implemented gradually and in a better way to avoid the disastrous impact on poor people,” said Haitham el-Harirri, an opposition legislator.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the architect of the economic reforms, defended his government’s decision to slash subsidies.
Egypt’s economy is still recovering from unrest following the 2011 uprising that toppled longtime authoritarian ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Source : Nytimes