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Sunday, 14 October 2018

Did the Oil Ministry push for a lighter fuel subsidy cut?

Was the presidency more aggressive on subsidy cuts than the oil ministry? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi reportedly said on Thursday that Oil Minister Tarek El Molla initially proposed a more modest cut to fuel subsidies and was pushed by the president to be more aggressive, according to Al Mal. In a speech on Thursday for the Armed Forces’ culture day, El Sisi said that El Molla had proposed an EGP 125 bn subsidy bill. Fuel subsidy spending in FY2018-19 is worth EGP 89 bn. El Sisi’s stance appears to have been particularly prescient in light of the spike in global oil prices, which has already impacted Egypt’s spending on fuel subsidies. Oil at USD 85/bbl adds EGP 1.70-3.80 per liter to the state’s subsidy bill, sources tell Al Shorouk.

El Sisi also pushed for the extradition of terrorist Hisham El Ashmawy, who is wanted for masterminding attacks against security forces, according to the Associated Press. The former special forces officer was recently captured in Libya.

The speech has been widely covered by the foreign press. Xinhua noted El Sisi’s description of the 25 January uprising as the "wrong medicine for the wrong diagnosis." The Israeli press, meanwhile, was particularly fond of El Sisi’s car metaphors to describe the 1973 war. The president called Israel a Mercedes, Ynet reports, and Egypt a SEAT to highlight how much of an underdog Egypt was.

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