Egypt’s PM announces $15 increase in minimum monthly wage

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s prime minister on Wednesday announced a 300-pound ($15.20) increase in the minimum monthly wage, as average Egyptians suffer from soaring prices in recent months.

In a news conference, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly announced the increase to 3,000 Egyptian pounds (over $152), up from 2,700 pounds ($137).

It was the fourth increase of the minimum wage since President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi took office in 2014. It came as the government faces towering financial and economic challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic and the Russian war in Ukraine.

The prime minister also announced an increase of 300 pounds ($15.25) in pensions and bonuses for civil servants.

The government, he also said, will not increase electricity bills until June next year. It will also offer financial support to some businesses hurt by the global economic crisis to avoid furloughs, Madbouly said. He did not elaborate.

Madbouly said some of the changes will take effect immediately, while others will have to be approved by parliament. He did not offer further details.

Wednesday’s measures are meant to ease the burdens of Egyptians hurt by the current global economic crisis, he said. Already, middle-class and poor Egyptians have suffered from painful austerity measures in recent years since the government embarked on ambitious economic reforms.

Egypt’s economy has been hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine, which rattled global markets and hiked oil and food prices across the world. Egypt is the world’s largest wheat importer, most of which came from Russia and Ukraine. The country’s supply is subject to price changes on the international market.

The Egyptian pound recently hit a record low against a strengthening U.S. dollar, selling at 19.7 pounds to $1. The slide has come as the government has engaged in monthslong talks with the International Monetary Fund for a new loan to support its reform program and to help address challenges caused by the war in Europe.

The government has received pledges from wealthy Arab Gulf nations for billions of dollars in investments, some of which are for private industry.

Inflation in the country of more than 104 million people surged past 15% in September, increasing pressure on lower-income households and everyday necessities. Around a third of Egyptians live in poverty, according to government figures.

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