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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Fuel subsidy cuts and their return top concerns on the airwaves

The talking heads are worried we may soon face another round of fuel subsidy cuts.

Hiking fuel prices will not be necessary this fiscal year in light of current international oil prices and the FX rate, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told Lama Gebril, who stepped in for Lamees Al Hadidi on Hona Al Asema last night. El Garhy said that the government agreed with the IMF that further subsidy cuts can be put off for the time being, but reminded the host that energy subsidies are still on their way out, as the government is sticking to its goal of completely lifting them within three to five years. Cabinet will review its position on fuel subsidies ahead of FY2018-19 to determine how best to achieve that goal, the minister said. El Garhy added that the decrease in month-on-month inflation in August is a positive indicator that annual inflation rate will reach to 12-13% in the coming six-to-nine months (watch, runtime 11:00).

Pushing back subsidy cuts could mean that next year will see a spike in prices that will be too difficult to stomach, CI Capital analyst Noaman Khaled said in a phone-in. By Khaled’s calculations, the government currently subsidizes 40% of a fuel’s true cost at the pump. He called on the government to reach an arrangement with the IMF to lift the subsidies more gradually to reduce the impact of the shock. Khaled also attributed August’s cooling inflation rates to companies shielding consumers from price increases (watch, runtime 7:54).

Gebril also spoke to head of the bakeries division at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, Abdullah Ghorab, who said Supply Ministry Ali El Moselhy decided to temporarily postpone the decision to require that subsidy card holders to buy bread in the governorates in which they live (watch, runtime 6:14). The move was initially presented as a means of cutting down on welfare fraud.

Over on Masaa DMC, Osama Kamal hosted MP Mohamed Elsewedy for a talk about his reelection as the leader of the Support Egypt bloc in parliament and his legislative agenda (watch, runtime 5:28). Elsewedy — switching between his MP’s hat and the one he wears as head of the Federation of Industries — said not enough land is available to industry. He said the Industrial Permits Act is expected to resolve this issue by granting the Industrial Development Authority the autonomy to tender and develop land plots without being tied down by other government bodies. Elsewedy maintained that providing land for industrial projects is paramount, even if it comes at the expense of agricultural land (watch, runtime 6:40).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib decided to take a working holiday in Gouna to cover the Gouna Film Festival, which Samih Sawiris told the host was his brother Naguib’s brainchild (watch, runtime 2:01).

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