Egypt raised natural gas prices for households and businesses on Saturday by between 33.3 and 75 percent, the latest among tough austerity measures aimed at rebuilding the country’s economy battered by years of unrest since a 2011 uprising.
The government’s decision, published in the official gazette on Saturday, should come into effect starting in August. It sets the price for gas consumption of up to 30 cubic meters to 1.75 Egyptian pounds up from 1 pound per cubic meter, an increase of 75 percent.
Meanwhile, gas consumption between 30-60 cubic meters went up by 42.8 percent, from 1.75 Egyptian pounds to 2.50 pounds per cubic meter. Consumption of over 60 cubic meters was upped by 33.3 percent, from 2.25 pounds to 3.00 pounds per cubic meter.
The move is likely to further fan the flames of popular discontent, especially among poor and middle-class Egyptians who have borne the brunt of the government’s economic reform program.
In recent months, Egypt introduced its latest wave of price hikes for fuel, drinking water and electricity. It also raised the price of new cellular phone lines and monthly cellular phone bills. Charges for issuing passports and car licenses also went up steeply.
The austerity policies are part of measures taken to meet demands by the International Monetary Fund for a $12 billion bailout loan to support the government’s reform plan. Egypt secured the three-year loan in 2016.
President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi says the reforms, he implemented after he took office in 2014, have put Egypt on “the right track” and that they will spur economic growth by over seven percent in the coming years.
He urged Egyptians to be patient with the reforms, which the government says should start benefiting citizens within two years.