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Egyptians protest latest austerity measures as energy prices rise

The demonstration comes one day after the Egyptian currency was devalued [Twitter]

Date of publication: 4 November, 2016

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Protesters denounce rising prices and the removal of subsidies on basic goods as lower grade petrol is set to go up from Friday by nearly 50 percent.

Tens of Egyptians took to the streets of Alexandria on Friday calling for the resignation of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi amid latest governmental austerity measures.

Protesters chanted slogans denouncing rising prices and the removal of subsidies on basic goods.

The demonstration comes just a day after the Egyptian currency was devalued and fuel prices raised.

Egyptian Prime Minister Sharif Ismail said his government could not postpone reforms.

"We did not have the luxury of postponing" the decisions, Ismail said at a news conference on Friday.

Ismail sought to assure Egyptians, many of whom rely on government subsidised food that prices would not skyrocket after the currency float.

"There will be an increase in some prices" Ismail said, but "there will be an intensified campaign to control prices."

The government has proposed a reform package to narrow the budget deficit – about 13 percent of GDP – that includes cuts to power subsidies and a value added tax to raise revenue.

Subsidies account for 7.9 percent of total government expenditure, according to the finance ministry.

Meanwhile, fuel prices saw a dramatic rise on Friday.

Lower grade petrol is set to go up from Friday by nearly 50 percent to 2.35 pounds a litre, while higher octane fuel would increase around one third to 3.5 pounds per litre, according to an oil ministry statement.

Sisi's government has rolled out an austerity programme and seeks billions in support from abroad in order to meet conditions for a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund.

The country has struggled to boost its foreign currency reserves in the political and economic turmoil that has followed the January 2011 uprising that toppled former ruler Hosni Mubarak.

Agencies contributed to this report

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