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Egypt: Commodity prices keep increasing

A worker carries a cylinder filled with gas on August 6, 2018 [SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images]
A worker carries a cylinder filled with gas on August 6, 2018 [SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images]

Two days ago, the Egyptian government raised the prices of butane cylinders in the local market, with values ​​ranging between 5 and 10 pounds, an increase of approximately 7.7 per cent. The government claims that prices have risen globally.

The prices of butane gas cylinders for homes increased by 5 pounds and for commercial uses by 10 pounds, bringing the official prices to 70 and 140 pounds. Since President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi came to office in 2014, he has raised the price of gas cylinders by 775 per cent.

During the past two months, the prices of many goods provided by the government have increased. For example, in early October, the Committee for Automatic Pricing of Petroleum Products raised gasoline prices of all kinds by 25 piasters per litre, the third increase in a row during 2021. The government justified this decision by increasing the cost of Brent crude by 7 per cent and a slight increase in the exchange rate by 0.1 per cent.

In late October, the Ministry of Supply raised the prices of subsidy card oil for a litre package from 21 pounds to 25 pounds and an 800-ml bottle from 17 to 20 pounds, with increases ranging between 17 and 19 per cent. The Minister of Supply justified this decision by increasing oil prices globally.

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This is the second increase in oil supply prices in five months. Last June, the government raised it to 21 pounds instead of 17 pounds per litre, an increase of 23.5 per cent, alleging an increase in global prices.

Also, two months ago, the government raised natural gas prices for iron and steel plants, cement, fertilisers, petrochemicals and other industrial activities, by $0.25 to $1.25 per million thermal units.

In early November, the government raised natural gas prices for the domestic sector and commercial activity equivalent to domestic use by rates ranging between 4.2 per cent and 6.4 per cent.

No subsidies

The Sisi regime refuses to bear the burden of increasing commodity prices globally in order to support poor people. According to the International Bank, around 60 per cent of Egyptians live in poverty. However, Sisi's regime has turned a blind eye on millions of poor people who bear the burden of raising the prices of petroleum products, oil supply and other commodities.

When prices drop globally, as happened last year for oil prices, the regime refused to reasonably reduce expenses, claiming that "to spare part of the savings achieved from the low cost of petroleum production, to meet the expected rise during the coming period."

In 2015, during the discovery of the Zohr field, one of the largest natural gas fields in the region, the Sisi regime promised Egyptians to obtain clean natural gas at low prices. He claimed that Egypt would be one of the major natural gas producers in the region.

Unfortunately, when Egypt achieved self-sufficiency in natural gas and began to export in large quantities, the regime raised natural gas prices for domestic, commercial and industrial consumption more than once. This repeated increase in prices has left Egyptians moaning in silence.

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