Egyptians struggle to cope with soaring fuel prices amid sops cuts

Cairo: Mohammed Abdel Ghafar says he isn’t sure about the exact definition of inflation. All he knows is that he won’t be able to feed his family, as the cost of living has soared in Egypt.
On Thursday, Egypt’s government hiked the prices of various types of fuel — the second such increase in less than a year — as part of tough economic reforms. Abdel Ghafar, 53, who works at a Cairo restaurant, says: “All what I know is that I won’t be able to feed my four children and their mother.” While petrol and diesel prices skyrocketed by 43 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, the price of butane cooking gas doubled.
“Before the new increases in prices of petrol and butane gas, we could hardly make ends meet. What will the situation be now. We are dying slowly,” he adds. In November, Egypt slashed the fuel subsidy and floated the local pound, measures that secured the country an International Monetary Fund bailout loan of $12 billion over three years. That measure had already triggered a series of price increases across various goods and services. Many of Egypt’s 93 million people have long relied on subsidies for basic products. Then on Thursday, which was a national holiday, Egyptians woke up to the shock news that the government raised fuel prices.
“I want to leave this country and escape its suffocating economic crisis,” says Akram Samy, a journalist and father of one. “All my plans to decrease my family’s expenses have failed since November.” Like millions of Egyptians, Samy, 28, is not sure how to cope. “Everything will be affected, not only the prices of transportation,but also those of all commodities,” he says.
The government has said the cuts in the fuel subsidy are necessary for revitalising the economy battered by the unrest that followed the 2011 uprising against president Hosni Mubarak. — dpa