Group of Egyptian lawmakers slam Sisi's fiscal reforms

CAIRO - A group of Egyptian lawmakers on Sunday criticized recent fiscal reforms enacted by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government, especially subsidy cuts to fuel and electricity.

The 25-30 Alliance, a bloc of a small number of opposition MPs, demanded in a statement that Sisi cancel what it called "errant economic decisions" for which it said the lower and middle classes were suffering.

Egypt this week announced fuel and electricity price hikes as it cut subsidies, the latest of a series of economic austerity measures backed by the International Monetary Fund as part of a $12 billion loan package to Cairo.

The fiscal reforms, which began with a steep currency devaluation in late 2016, have helped improve economic indicators such as GDP growth, but continue to leave many Egyptians worse off.

Rare public protests erupted last month over increased fares on Cairo's metro system, but no public demonstrations have been reported this week after fuel and electricity became more expensive.

The lawmakers' statement was rare public criticism of Sisi, who critics say has presided over the worst crackdown against political opponents in Egypt's history, with authorities arresting thousands of Islamists and hundreds of other activists since he came to power in 2014.

The 25-30 Alliance has regularly opposed government policy, however.

Egypt is trying to revive its economy, which was hit by the unrest that followed a 2011 popular uprising that ousted longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.