- Title: Despite rosy economic data, Egyptians complain of harder living
- Date: 29th August 2019
- Summary: CAIRO, EGYPT (AUGUST 20, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF CENTRAL MARKET MEN EATING MEAL IN MARKET WOMAN PEELING POTATOES POT ON STOVE MAN FRYING FOOD VARIOUS OF BURNING GARBAGE IN ALLEYWAY BAKERY / BAKER WORKING VARIOUS OF BAKER PLACING DOUGH IN OVEN AND TAKING BAKED BREAD OUT OVEN (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BAKER, MOHSEN KAMAL, SAYING: "How much does housing cost? For a young man to graduate and want to start his life, how will he be able to? Where will he get [the money]? An employee in any occupation with a two-year contract for one or two years, how much will he earn? Three-thousand Egyptian pounds? Three thousand pounds? Okay, a flat's rent is 1,200 or 1,700 pounds. What water will he pay for and what electricity and what gas? And what transport will he ride? Today, the cheapest bus ticket is five pounds. How will the young man pay? God be with him." VARIOUS OF RED BRICK BUILDINGS VEGETABLES ON DISPLAY IN MARKET MARKET LIVE POULTRY IN MARKET VARIOUS OF MARKET VARIOUS OF WOMEN BUYING VEGETABLES (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) CAIRO RESIDENT, ZEINAB, SAYING: "Garlic is expensive, onions are expensive, tomatoes are expensive, eggplants are expensive, dates are expensive and even water is expensive, gas is expensive. What are we to do? Electricity is expensive. People are going crazy. But this is unfair, the government has to come see what is happening with the prices. They don't feel for anybody. Honestly, they don't feel for anybody." VARIOUS OF CENTRAL MARKET CAFE MEN SITTING IN CAFE (SOUNDBITE) (English) HEAD OF CAIRO BASED THINK TANK SIGNET, ANGUS BLAIR, SAYING: "I think that the major part of pain has passed for the average person but it is still going to be difficult and I think that is where we need a more constructive engagement between the government and the private sector, to give hope too to the private sector that these changes will effect positively for the private sector if the government is able to broaden its budget to help especially in infrastructure to smaller companies, I would like to see that, so that we can hopefully look forward to, quite quickly, growth in private sector employment." VARIOUS OF OLD WAREHOUSES IN CITY CENTRE VARIOUS OF OLD CAIRO BUILDINGS
- Embargoed: 12th September 2019 16:31
- Keywords: Egypt economy Egyptian markets struggling Egyptians financial struggles in Egypt financial woes in Egypt
- Location: CAIRO, EGYPT
- City: CAIRO, EGYPT
- Country: Egypt
- Topics: Society/Social Issues
- Reuters ID: LVA001AU9UE6T
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Economists and investment banks say Egypt's economic reforms have been a huge success. Zeinab doesn't think so.
Walking through a market in central Cairo, the elderly woman listed many types of vegetables that are expensive on the market, saying "What are we to do?... People are going crazy".
On paper, data appears to show that reforms launched with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2016 are working.
Inflation hit its lowest in four years last month despite a round of fuel price hikes. Unemployment fell to 7.5% in the second quarter of 2019 from 9.9% in the same period of 2018 and the non-oil private sector expanded slightly in July.
Bankers' research reports have been celebrating Egypt as one of the hottest emerging markets stories, with debt investments surging. Expressing confidence that inflation is under control, the central bank last week cut interest rates, and analysts expect more cuts.
But ordinary Egyptians complain that they see no improvement in day-to-day life after years of price rises, a currency devaluation and austerity in return for a $12 billion IMF loan.
In a country rights activists say is in the midst of a crackdown on freedoms, there has been no sign of protests.
But Egyptians, who have been asked to be patient for better lives for five years, have grown increasingly frustrated.
"They don't feel for anybody. Honestly, they don't feel for anybody," Zeinab said.
The IMF measures were designed to bring Egypt's budget and balance of payments deficits under control after the turmoil following the 2011 uprising that unseated Hosni Mubarak.
The lifting of fuel subsidies, a key part of the IMF deal, has been particularly painful, as higher transport costs lead to higher prices for almost all goods.
Public service workers' wages increased by an average of 3.4% year-on-year in the second quarter of 2018, according to Reuters calculations based on finance ministry data - not nearly enough to match inflation that peaked at 33% in 2017.
The percentage of Egyptians living below the poverty line rose to 32.5% in the 2017/18 financial year from 27.8% in 2015/16, the state statistics agency said in July. It sets the national poverty line at 8,827 Egyptian pounds ($534) a year.
(Sayed Sheasha, Nadeen Ebrahim, Mostafa Salem)
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