Prices for cigarettes produced outside Egypt rose on Sunday by EGP 1 to EGP 2, with traders expecting further rises at the beginning of May.
The prices of Marlboro’s cigarettes, including Marlboro Reds and Marlboro Gold, jumped EGP 2 to reach EGP 16 from EGP 14.
Prices for locally-produced cigarettes like Cleopatra, however, remained unchanged, confirmed Tareq Mohamed, who works at a kiosk in Dokki.
“The price of a carton of ten packs of cigarettes rose by EGP 10 from Sunday morning,” said Mohamed.
A woman working at another kiosk in Dokki said that prices for Marlboro cigarettes increased by EGP 1, while US-produced L&M cigarettes increased by EGP 0.50. “However, our profit margin is still the same,” she said.
In early April, a number of kiosk owners condemned an increase in the prices of some cigarette brands, which rose abruptly by almost 5%.
Ibrahim Embaby, the head of the Tobacco Division at the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), denied, however, that there had been any increase in the price of non-locally produced cigarettes.“There has been no increase,” he said. “If cigarette prices have risen, then it is simply a move by greedy traders, since the price of the US dollar has jumped recently.”
Mohamed Ahmed, an owner of a supermarket in the Shubra neighbourhood in Cairo, said: “I don’t know why prices have gone up, but when I got my supplies of Marlboro, L&M and Merit cigarettes from the wholesaler, I found they had all risen by EGP 1.”
Consumers have also confirmed the price rises.
“This is provocation,” said Ahmed Mahmoud, an architect who smokes Merit cigarettes.
Tarek El-Dosouky, a taxi driver, also said that prices had increased “by about EGP 1”.
“All types of cigarettes have increased by 1 EGP, except local cigarettes and Rothmans cigarettes,” said Mohamed Safwat, a graphic designer.
“The prices have increased twice in a very short period,” he said. “Two weeks ago, a pack reached EGP 14.5 instead of EGP 13.5, and now it has hit EGP 16.5.”
The increase in the prices of non-locally produced cigarettes comes following recent announcements by Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Ashraf Al-Araby, who said that the Egyptian government will raise taxes on cement, iron, the telecommunications sector, cigarettes, and alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, in compliance with the government’s economic reform programme which seeks to enable Egypt to secure a $4.8bn loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
According to media reports, Minister of Finance Al-Morsi Hegazy said on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank spring meeting in Washington DC that the Egyptian government is moving to raise some taxes on non-essential items this weekend.