austerity riots?

Egypt: Can austerity measures indirectly curtail population growth?

By Sherif Tarek

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Posted on January 12, 2022 17:39

A general view shows a crowd and shops at Al Ataba, a market in central Cairo
A general view shows a crowd and shops at Al Ataba, a market in central Cairo, Egypt February 10, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Egypt has been witnessing economic reforms that have added to its population’s financial woes for over five years. More austerity measures are on the horizon as President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi stresses that parents should not count on the state to feed their children.

Deadly so-called “bread riots” infamously erupted across Egypt in 1977 when Anwar el-Sadat cut subsidies for a number of staples, including flour and cooking oil. The unrest forced the late president to backtrack on his decision, which was part of an IMF deal.

The thorny issue was shelved for more than four decades afterwards, until President Sisi, again on the back of IMF agreements, relaunched the decision by slashing 20g from each subsidised loaf of bread last summer.

Sisi also hinted that the price of subsidised bread would later go up, lamenting that 20 loaves are equivalent to one cigarette, or E£1 ($0.064), while each loaf costs the state 65 piasters in subsidies. Supply minister Ali el-Moselhy says the matter is being studied and “things will be clearer” by the end of March.

An IMF-dictated bundle of economic reforms have fomented galloping prices since late 2016, a couple of

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