Uproar in Egypt over hike in mobile recharging cards

The new logo of Telecom Egypt is pictured at their headquarters building in Cairo, Egypt, in this September 20, 2017 photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 03 October 2017

Uproar in Egypt over hike in mobile recharging cards

CAIRO: Egyptians are angry over a government decision to ratify a 36-percent devaluation of mobile phone balance recharge cards.
“It’s completely unfair, that’s quite a lot,” a mobile user told Arab News after realizing that she received about 70 percent of the price of the purchased card in charging credit.
The decision, ratified by the state-run Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), came into effect over the weekend.
Since then, there have been boycott calls on social media against the telecom companies applying the increase.
The increase is not on the price of the recharge cards, but on the delivered value given from the company to the customer.
This means a recharge card costing 100 Egyptian pounds ($5.67) will give 70 Egyptian pounds of credit.
Justin Dargin, a Middle East expert at the University of Oxford, said the devaluation is part of government attempts to raise revenue and achieve budgetary stability following years of political instability.
“The devaluation of the mobile recharge cards operates as a de-facto tax, which inevitably would injure the Egyptian working class in much the same way as a regressive tax would,” he told Arab News.
“It’ll take a larger percentage of the income of the poorer segments of the Egyptian populace.”
On Sunday, some mobile users in Egypt were confused when they tried recharging their mobile balance and received the full value of the card, without the 36-percent devaluation.
Many thought the government had backtracked its decision due to public anger, but a source at a telecom company denied that.
“Adding the full credit has occurred in some prepaid cards which have not been updated with the new pricing, but all recharging cards will be updated during the coming period,” Al Masry Al-Youm newspaper quoted the source as saying.
The Association of Citizens Against Price Rises called for a boycott of mobile telecom companies in Egypt, asking users to refrain from buying balance recharge cards.
It accused the TRA of regulating monopolization because it obtains 2-percent profit from mobile service operators.
The price hike from Egypt’s top telecom operators Orange, Vodafone and Etisalat comes as landline monopoly Telecom Egypt launches WE, the country’s fourth mobile network, owned by the government.


IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

Updated 18 October 2019

IMF warns of Asia’s darkening growth outlook as trade war bites

  • The IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020
  • It also slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020
WASHINGTON: Asian nations face heightening risks to their economic outlooks as the US-China trade war and slumping Chinese demand hurt the world’s fastest-growing region, the International Monetary Fund said on Friday.
In its World Economic Outlook report on Tuesday, the IMF cut its economic growth forecast for the Asia-Pacific region to 5.0 percent for this year and 5.1 percent for 2020 — the slowest pace of expansion since the global financial crisis more than a decade ago.
“Headwinds from global policy uncertainty and growth deceleration in major trading partners are taking a toll on manufacturing, investment, trade, and growth,” Changyong Rhee, director of the IMF’s Asia and Pacific department, said during a news conference at the IMF and World Bank fall meetings.
“Risks are skewed to the downside,” he said, calling on policymakers in the region to focus on near-term fiscal and monetary policy steps to spur growth.
“The intensification in trade tensions between the US and China could further weigh on confidence and financial markets, thereby weakening trade, investment and growth,” he said.
A faster-than-expected slowdown in China’s economic growth could also generate negative spillovers in the region, as many Asian countries have supply chains closely tied to China, he added.
The IMF slashed China’s growth forecast to 6.1 percent for this year and 5.8 percent for 2020, pointing to the impact from the trade conflict and tighter regulation to address excess debt.