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Egypt lowers fuel prices for the first time in decades following rare anti-government protests Open in fullscreen

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Egypt lowers fuel prices for the first time in decades following rare anti-government protests

The fuel price cut was the first in decades [Getty]

Date of publication: 5 October, 2019

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Fuel prices have been cut in Egypt for the first time in decades amid growing discontent triggered by corruption allegations against the country's president.
Fuel prices in Egypt were lowered for the first time in decades on Friday in a cut that comes after a series of hikes in recent years amid an ambitious program aimed at overhauling the country’s ailing economy.

The price reduction, which was announced by the Petroleum Ministry on Thursday, came off the back of rare anti-government protests in Egypt.

The price for 92-octane gasoline was lowered to 7.75 ($0.48) Egyptian pounds a litre from 8 pounds ($0.49), while the cost of 80-octane gas drops to 6.50 ($0.40) Egyptian from 6.75 pounds ($0.41), the statement said.

The government had increased fuel and cooking gas prices by up to 22 percent in July.

In 2016, Egypt agreed to slash a range of energy subsidies and economic changes in exchange for a $12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. The changes included floating Egypt’s currency, making substantial cuts in state subsidies on basic goods, and introducing a wide range of new taxes.

The tough austerity measures have won praise from economists and business leaders but have been a heavy blow to poor and middle-class Egyptians. The official statistics agency reported in July that one in three Egyptians is poor.

Earlier this week, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said he would do more to protect poor and middle-class Egyptians, in his first remarks on the economy following the protests.

The protests were triggered by videos posted online by self-exiled businessman Mohamed Aly, who has claimed large-scale corruption by the military and government. 

Among the allegations is the claim that Sisi has misappropriated public funds to build a collossal palace and a number of villas.

Sisi has dismissed the allegations as "lies", while also arresting more than 2,300 people in connection with the protests. At least 111 children, aged between 11 and 17, are among those detained, according to Belady for Rights and Freedoms.

Egypt has witnessed an unprecedented crackdown on dissent since Sisi came to power in 2014, with the jailing of Islamists as well as secular activists. His government has put through austerity measures badly hitting the country's poor and middle classes.

In his first remarks following the protests, Sisi said earlier this week he would do more to protect poor and middle-class Egyptians. Also, the speaker of the state-controlled parliament, said that political reforms were underway.

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