Prices of most goods and services have risen significantly (Reuters)

There is no talk above the talk of prices and their rise in Egypt at the beginning of the new year by rates ranging between 15% and 35%, and the expectation of new increases that include the rest of the rest, amid talk of seeking a new devaluation of the Egyptian pound against the dollar.

With the first days of the new year, the citizens of the largest Arab country in terms of population (105 million) came to each other, asking each other at work, at home, on the street and in the markets: Why are prices rising? And when to stop?

Officials responded to citizens' anger, disapproval and questions that they were postponed decisions and that they were necessary and that delaying them did more harm than good, and the Egyptian government distanced itself from its responsibility for these increases, attributing them to the "weakness of the pound" and external causes.

The new price tag topped the social media platforms in Egypt, following a series of decisions to increase prices in transportation, communications, electricity, goods and goods, as well as fees for some services.

Cairo metro ticket prices jumped by up to 30%, while the prices of all internet and telecommunications packages increased by 15% to 33%, electricity prices increased by up to 20% for the most popular segments, car registration and transfer fees doubled by more than 200%, while the prices of building materials, consumer goods and food increased by at least 10%.

Citizens at a loss

Mohamed Fathy (35 years old), an employee in one of the financial finance companies in Cairo Governorate, complained about the continuous rises in prices, and told Al Jazeera Net, "Price increase never stops, no one can set a schedule for his expenses, what was enough for a week became enough half and then a third and then a quarter, and wages do not change."

The government affirms its priorities by increasing wages and pensions and raising the tax exemption limit, to contribute to containing as much as possible the consequences of the unprecedented inflationary wave, affected by the repercussions of the Corona pandemic, and the subsequent geopolitical tensions.

The minimum wage for state employees is 4,130 pounds ($11) for the sixth degree, and 358,3500 pounds ($114) for the excellent class, while the minimum wage for workers in the private sector is 3000,16 pounds ($31), instead of 53,<> pounds, an increase of <>% (the dollar is equivalent to about <> pounds in banks, and <> pounds in the parallel market).

Safia Gamal, an administrator in one of the health departments in Giza Governorate (south of Cairo), says that these increases "were expected," adding to Al Jazeera Net, that "everyone knows that there are price hikes will be applied, but when and how much no one knows, and we must adapt to those increases; because they are not the first and will not be the last, and young people have to work and help their families."

While Saeed Mahfouz, owner of a food shop in a suburb of Giza, does not see that "the problem is in the increase in prices only, but in the availability of goods in the markets; because any shortage will lead to a significant breakdown in prices," and adds in his speech to Al Jazeera Net, no one can stop prices, and the government says it is trying to mitigate the damage, and it bore a lot.

Egypt under pressure from IMF to raise prices (Al Jazeera)

Behind the scenes the IMF

Mahmoud al-Asqalani, president of the "Citizens Against High Prices" association, attributed these new increases to the demands of the International Monetary Fund, which were planned to be announced at the beginning of the year and could have been postponed, but the Egyptian negotiator lost his strength and ability to resist such measures under great pressure.

Speaking to Al Jazeera Net, Asqalani explained that he hoped that the government would give positive signals to citizens who suffer from high prices with the beginning of the new year, but what happened is the opposite, the contract has overflowed bear the government, pointing out that the high prices of basic services will raise inflation rates and the prices of the rest of the goods, and citizens only have coexistence, endurance and patience.

Al-Asqalani promised that it is not fair to hold the pound responsible for the high prices, the continuation of subsidies and the increase in the prices of services, due to its depreciation against the dollar, and what is happening is the exploitation of the crisis and speculation on the dollar that should stop until the manifestations of high prices stop.

Government sins

Ahmed Khuzim, head of the Forum for Development and Added Value and economist, described the government's decisions as "a step of compulsion, as it has no sources but collection in light of the decline in its dollar resources from tourism, remittances from Egyptians abroad, new geopolitical threats, high global inflation rates and raising interest rates, all of which are stronger factors that need a solid economic ground."

Stressing in his speech, to Al Jazeera Net, that such decisions were expected in light of the adoption of the draft budget last summer with a deficit of more than 824 billion pounds ($ 27 billion) initially, and until the government maintains the level of deficit and does not worsen and reduce pressure on the budget, whose revenues go to pay debts and interest, the government will continue to increase the prices of services and goods and impose more fees.

Ahmed Khuzaim refuted such decisions that do not represent any solution to the crisis, pointing out that it is not economic, financial or monetary reform, as fiscal policy is open to loans and monetary policy is shrinking in raising interest, no country whose monetary policy is going against its fiscal policy, and the continued printing of money and the inability to generate dollars, and the lack of benefit from the structural sectors of industry, trade and agriculture, are part of the government's continuous mistakes since 2016.

Madbouly: The aim of increasing the prices of some basic commodities is to reduce the financial burdens on the state (Associated Press)

The government will not bear forever

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly blamed the rise in prices on the rise in the official price of the dollar, and explained, during a press conference, last Wednesday, that the state has borne more burdens to relieve the citizen since the crisis began in February 2022 when the Russian-Ukrainian war broke out.

The volume of subsidies in five strategic goods and services increased to EGP 5 billion, up from EGP 342 billion (such as: electricity, fuel, supply, butane gas and a loaf of bread) in 100, according to Madbouly, had it not been for the Corona pandemic, the Russian-Ukrainian war, and the global inflation crisis.

The aim of increasing the prices of some basic goods and services is partly "to alleviate the size of the financial burdens that have increased significantly on the state", he said, warning that if they continue, "these problems could explode in the short term".

Egypt has devalued the pound 3 times since February 2022, reaching 31 pounds in banks, and about 53 pounds in the parallel market, and the inflation rate reached about 36% and the external debt maintained its record high of about 164.5 billion dollars.

Source : Al Jazeera