Egypt hikes gas prices by up to 75 pct in IMF-backed austerity plan

A worker holds up a fuel pump nozzle after filling up the tank of a car. (Reuters)
Updated 21 July 2018
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Egypt hikes gas prices by up to 75 pct in IMF-backed austerity plan

  • The increases follow hikes to fuel, electricity and public transport prices

CAIRO: Egypt said on Saturday it was raising the price of natural gas for home and commercial use by up to 75 percent, the latest move in an IMF-backed austerity program that has left many Egyptians struggling to make ends meet.
The increases follow hikes to fuel, electricity and public transport prices that are part of a $12 billion IMF loan program signed in 2016 that aims to lure back investors and lift the economy battered by political turmoil since 2011.
The government statement published in the Official Gazette said that, effective Aug. 1, the price for consuming up to 30 cubic meters of gas had been set at 0.175 Egyptian pounds ($0.0098) per cubic meter, up from 0.100 pounds.
The price for consuming between 30 and 60 cubic meters was set at 0.250 pounds, up from 0.175 pounds, while consumption of more than 60 cubic meters was set at 0.300 pounds from 0.225 pounds.
The statement did not specify the timeframes over which the consumption levels apply. But officials said they covered the usual billing period, which is monthly in Egypt.
Price hikes under the three-year IMF program helped drive up Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rate to 14.4 percent in June. Analysts said the impact of cutting energy subsidies was feeding through to the broader economy faster than expected.

($1 = 17.8500 Egyptian pounds)


China’s car sales decline deepens, road ahead bumpy

Updated 37 min 11 sec ago
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China’s car sales decline deepens, road ahead bumpy

  • ‘Car sales in January continued to decline, and there was no sign of improvement’
  • China has been grappling with slowing economic growth as well as the fallout of trade frictions with the US

SHANGHAI: China’s automobile sales in January tumbled 15.8 percent from a year earlier, the country’s top auto industry association said on Monday, as the world’s largest auto market hits the skids with the slump in sales extending to the seventh month.
China’s Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM) said in an emailed statement to Reuters that sales dropped to 2.37 million vehicles last month. This follows a 13 percent drop in December and a 14 percent fall in November.
“Car sales in January continued to decline, and there was no sign of improvement. We estimate that February wholesales will also drop sharply” said Xu Haidong, CAAM assistant secretary general.
“The reason for the sales drop is still the slowing overall economy, and consumption decline in small and medium-sized cities” Xu said.
China has been grappling with slowing economic growth as well as the fallout of trade frictions with the United States, forces which contributed to its auto market contracting for the first time in more than two decades last year.
Beijing is now trying to persuade consumers to loosen their purse strings and has pledged to provide subsidies to boost rural sales of some vehicles and purchases of new energy vehicles.
“Q1 sales were good last year, so this year the industry expects to have negative growth in the first quarter” Yale Zhang, head of consultancy AutoForesight, said, but he predicts sales to gradually pick up in the next three quarters.
Industry executives also say China’s car sales in January and February tend to be affected by the Lunar New Year holiday, as consumers hold off on their car purchasing decisions around the festival.
The holiday’s dates change annually but tend to occur in either month. It took place in the first week of February this year.
China’s sales of new energy vehicles, however, continued to buck the trend, totaling 95,700 in January, a year-on-year increase of 140 percent, CAAM said.