Egypt hikes domestic fuel prices in latest round of subsidy cuts

Scaling back fuel subsidies was a key plank of Egypt’s three-year $12 billion economic reform package signed with the IMF. (Reuters)
Updated 05 July 2019

Egypt hikes domestic fuel prices in latest round of subsidy cuts

  • Scaling back fuel subsidies was a key plank of Egypt’s three-year $12 billion economic reform package signed with the IMF in November 2016

CAIRO: Egypt introduced its latest round of fuel subsidy cuts on Friday, raising domestic prices by between 16 percent and 30 percent as it nears the end of an IMF-backed economic reform program.
Starting at 9 A.M. (0700 GMT), the price of widely used 92 octane grade petrol rose by 18.5 percent to 8 pounds ($0.4825) a liter, while lower quality 80 octane rose by 22.7 percent to 6.75 pounds ($0.4071) a liter, the petroleum ministry said in a statement.
Higher grade 95 octane fuel rose by 16.1 percent to 9 Egyptian pounds ($0.5428) a liter, and diesel rose by 22.7 percent to 6.75 pounds per liter. The price of cooking gas cylinders rose by 30 percent to 65 pounds for domestic use and 130 pounds for commercial use.
Scaling back fuel subsidies was a key plank of a three-year $12 billion economic reform package signed with the IMF in November 2016. Energy subsidies had eaten up as much as 20 percent of the government’s budget in recent years.
The reforms also included a sharp devaluation of the Egyptian pound and led to rapid inflation that later cooled.
They have improved the country’s macroeconomic indicators but have increased the financial strain for tens of millions of Egyptians, many of whom live under the poverty line.


Lebanon security forces face off against protesters near parliament building in Beirut

Updated 33 min 36 sec ago

Lebanon security forces face off against protesters near parliament building in Beirut

  • 75 protesters have been injured
  • The latest clashes this week come after recent cooling of tensions in Lebanese capital

BEIRUT: Security personnel fired tear gas and water cannons at protesters armed with little more than tree branches and sign posts in Beirut on Saturday in clashes near Lebanon’s parliament.

According to a Red Cross statement issued on Saturday, 75 protesters have been injured during the standoff with security forces.

The latest clashes come after a cooling of tensions in the Lebanese capital, after largely peaceful protests which broke out across the country in October over the state of the economy turned increasingly violent, but people have filled the streets again this week.

They are furious at a ruling elite that has steered the country toward its worst economic crisis in decades.

Police wielding batons and firing tear gas have wounded dozens of people at protests in recent days. Anger at the banks — which have curbed people’s access to their savings — started to boil over, with protesters smashing bank facades and ATMs on Tuesday night.

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces said on Saturday that police in Beirut were being “violently and directly” confronted at one of the entrances to the parliament. In a tweet, it called on people to leave the area for their own safety.

Witnesses said they saw young men hurling stones and flower pots toward riot police, while protesters tried to push through an entrance to a heavily barricaded district of central Beirut, which includes the parliament.

Hundreds of protesters marched and chanted against in the political class in other parts of the capital. A large banner at one of the rallies read: “If the people go hungry, they will eat their rulers.”

The unrest, which stemmed from anger at corruption and the rising cost of living, forced Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri to resign in October. Feuding politicians have since failed to agree a new cabinet or rescue plan.

The Lebanese pound has lost nearly half its value, while dollar shortages have driven up prices and confidence in the banking system has collapsed.

(With Reuters)