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Egypt set to increase airport departure fee, cinema, theatre tickets

Passengers stand in a queue ahead of a security check at the Sharm El-Sheikh international airport on 20 June 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]
Passengers stand in a queue ahead of a security check at the Sharm El-Sheikh international airport in Egypt on 20 June 2020 [KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images]

Egypt is set to increase taxes on several services to make up for lost revenue from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The fee to depart the country will be raised from 50 Egyptian pounds ($3.18) to 100 Egyptian pounds ($6.36), whilst tax on items purchased from the duty free will increase from two to three per cent.

Tax on entrance fees for casinos will also be raised, and for tickets for the theatre and cinema.

The news comes as the government has raised the price of domestic and commercial butane gas cylinders.

It is the sixth increase over the last seven years and will push up the price of food in restaurants.

The price hike is likely to exacerbate suffering in Egypt where poverty is soaring, two thirds of people already live under the poverty line, yet unemployment is rife.

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In August, Egyptians took to social media to criticise President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's call to increase the price of subsidised bread.

Whilst the government has repeatedly raised the cost of living it has simultaneously pressed ahead with huge vanity projects worth billions. In 2019 news that opulent presidential palaces were being built sparked rare demonstrations amid accusations of corruption.

A leaked recording earlier this week by popular YouTuber Abdullah Al-Sharif allegedly revealed a phone call between two presidential advisers, with one offering the other two million Egyptian pounds ($127,000) for every project passed to the Armed Forces Engineering Authority.

A new administrative capital is being built for a staggering $45 billion whilst critics say the money could be better used to develop slums in the country.

In addition to this, Egypt has received huge amounts of funds from abroad as part of efforts to confront the virus, including $3 billion from Saudi Arabia which was deposited into the central bank in November.

At the same time, the Gulf state also extended the terms of $2.3 billion worth of previous deposits.

The World Bank also approved a $360 million development policy financing loan to Egypt to support its post-pandemic recovery.

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