Fuel price hikes steal the spotlight on the airwaves
The Ismail government’s decision to hike fuel and energy prices last week ahead of the new fiscal year dominated the airwaves last night.
On Hona Al Asema,Lamees Al Hadidi hosted none other than Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla, who noted among other things that the phase-out of energy subsidies will make it easier for the Egyptian General Petroleum Corporation (EGPC) repay arrears to international oil companies (watch, runtime 4:07). The measure will also help curb Egypt’s consumption of fuel, which has been growing 7-9% per year — a much higher rate than the rest of the world, (watch, runtime 23:30).
El Molla also defended a 100% rise in the price of butane gas cylinders, which he said still cost the state c. EGP 115 a piece and which are still heavily subsidized at the new price of EGP 60 a piece (watch, runtime 2:56).
Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk also defended the hikes, arguing that recent measures to strengthen the social safety net, income tax cuts, and development projects are meant to alleviate some of the pressure on lower and middle classes (watch, runtime: 14:03). That won’t stop commodity prices from going up though, Domty Vice Chairman Mohamed El Damaty told Lamees, especially for goods that rely heavily on transport (watch, runtime 3:07). Fares on public transport will rise anywhere from EGP 0.25 to EGP 0.50, a transport official told the host (watch, runtime 6:17).
Naguib Sawiris praised the decision, calling it a “bold move” by the government (watch, runtime 5:28).
Over on Kol Youm, Amr Adib spoke to Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy, who said the government would ensure that the fuel price hikes would have no impact on the cost of bread or other subsidized food staples. El Moselhy will be meeting with business groups on Monday to remind them that the authorities will be monitoring transport costs, warning against unfair increases (watch, runtime 15:17).