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Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Electricity prices will definitely rise in July, official says; government plans additional welfare package

There’s no question that electricity prices will rise in July, an unnamed senior Electricity Ministry official told Al Shorouk on Tuesday, dismissing persistent rumors the price hike would be delayed. Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said last month that the hike was inevitable but will be modest. The source speculated that prices are likely to rise by 20-30% for each consumption bracket — except for the three lowest tiers, which will see only very small increases. As we noted yesterday, some in the government appear to be pushing to delay the hikes.

This comes as the state looks to bolster its coffers with some EGP 7 bn from an increase in the price of some government services in FY 2017-18, Reuters reports. Rep. Yasser Omar says the House of Representatives agreed to raise the fees paid for 27 different services, including vehicle registration, gun registration, passport issuance, and expat residence visas. The fees increases will also include a one-time EGP 50 fee for every mobile phone line purchased and EGP 10 on every monthly mobile phone bill. Omar says the increase in fees was reduced from an initial plan that was expected to generate EGP 8 bn.

The government taketh, then spend(eth): The Ismail government could be announcing a number of new measures soon to strengthen the social safety net as it pursues further economic reforms and subsidy cuts, sources also tell Al Shorouk. The new spending — which will complement the EGP 46 bn package the government approved last month — will reportedly include a 50% increase in food subsidy card allowances, additional assistance to beneficiaries of the Takaful and Karama cash subsidy programs, and three new social welfare initiatives targeting the poorest in Upper Egypt, the sources add. The EGP 46 bn welfare package approved by Cabinet in May included a 15% increase to pensions and earmarked an additional EGP 2.25 bn to Takaful and Karama.

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