Recent Developments in Egypt’s Fuel Subsidy Reform Process

By Laura James on March 31, 2015

In July 2014, Egypt introduced long-awaited energy subsidy cuts. These had been in the pipeline for over five years, but repeatedly delayed by political instability.

Their announcement was therefore seen as a sign of consolidation by the new President, Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi, as well as a positive signal to external investors. With energy subsidies habitually driving a large, structural fiscal deficit, and constant problems of shortages, low fuel and electricity prices were widely seen as a luxury that Egypt could no longer afford. The most significant step was the 64 per cent hike in diesel prices, but similar increases affected electricity and a wide range of refined products—the most notable exclusion being heavily subsidized liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Moreover, the subsidy reductions were set out as the first step in a five-year program to eliminate energy subsidies entirely (again, excluding LPG).

This paper seeks to outline the background to Egypt’s move, assess its implementation and the public response, and to analyze future probabilities. It concludes by drawing out lessons for other countries facing similar pressures./p>

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IISD, 2015