Despite the economic and social repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic, Egypt's Ministry of Electricity announced yesterday that electricity prices would be increasing 19 per cent next month.
This is the seventh increase in prices since the government of President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi took power in 2014,
According to sources cited by the New Khaleej website, the coronavirus pandemic has put pressure on the government budget as global tourism has come to a halt, leading to a reduction in foreign reserves.
Egypt's Ministry of Electricity and Renewable Energy had announced earlier that it would raise electricity rates in the fiscal year 2019-2020 starting June by between 3.7 per cent and 39 per cent for households, depending on consumption levels; and between 6.6 per cent and 21.7 per cent for businesses.
In a related context, Financial Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday that nearly 130 billion Egyptian pounds ($8.66 billion) "vanished" from the country's GDP as a result of the virus.
Egypt has previously announced that it will phase out electricity subsidies entirely by 2022, as the government continues to implement stringent austerity measures as part of its economic reform plan.
The rises were implemented as part of Egypt's commitment to economic reforms stipulated by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in accordance with the country's loan agreement. Finance authorities also introduced VAT for the first time last year, increasing the cost of countless goods; it simultaneously cut state subsidies on fuel, electricity, and water.
Egypt has so far recorded 36,826 coronavirus cases and 1,036 deaths, according to the US-based Worldometer website. The real number is expected to be much higher, however, amidst claims of a government cover-up.