In Egypt, IMF deal brings austerity few can afford

August 20, 2016 11:39

CAIRO - A few years ago Imad would not have imagined himself queuing in the Cairo sun for a weekly ration of subsidized baby milk. But rising prices mean his civil servant's salary barely lasts the month and the government is tightening its belt further.

"Electricity is up, food is up. The only thing that doesn't rise in Egypt is people's pay yet all they talk about is cutting subsidies," said Imad, smartly-dressed like many in the line.

Squeezed by economic and political turmoil since the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians are preparing for a new era of austerity.

The reforms are part of a program to cut the budget deficit and rebalance currency markets promised to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to secure $12 billion of lending over three years.

But political opposition to measures involving subsidy cuts, devaluation and new taxes while tens of millions rely on state-subsidized food, make the program ambitious.

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