Egypt fuel prices soar up to 70%, exasperating the public

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from The Los Angeles Times,

The Egyptian government trimmed its energy subsidies Saturday, causing fuel prices to soar and motorists to stew.

The cabinet’s cuts increased prices Saturday for gas and diesel, in some cases by almost 70%. The action was part of a package of austerity measures taken by President Abdel Fattah Sisi’s administration to abolish energy subsidies that cost Egypt around $24 billion annually.

Although the subsidy cut was anticipated, many were left disillusioned by the unprecedented hike — with private transportation drivers the first to be hit hard.

“This is the highest increase in fuel prices that I’ve seen in over 36 years,” Kamal El Shazli, a bus driver working in eastern Cairo, said. “We were told that everything will prosper once Sisi gets elected, and now we see this [hike] in his first few weeks as a president; He [Sisi] is accelerating [mobilization] for a third revolution.”

Three years of political turmoil have followed the 2011 revolution that ousted longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak and Egypt’s already sputtering economy has been left in shambles. Sisi last week approved a revised budget with a deficit of $33.57 billion.

Consumers now fear the fuel price increase will result in higher prices for many other commodities. On Saturday, the head of Egypt’s Consumer Protection Assn., Zeinab Awadallah, strongly condemned the cabinet’s new measures, adding that the decision will lead to at least a “200% increase in prices of almost all other basic commodities.”

The cabinet announced Thursday an increase in electricity prices of between 10% and 50%, depending on the level of household usage. Minister of Electricity and Renewable Energy Mohamed Shaker said that the government is planning to phase out Egypt’s electricity subsidies of $4 billion during the next five years.

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