CAIRO: On Monday May 5, Ahmed Ezz, head of the ruling National Democratic Party’s (NDP) logistics committee, announced a series of price increases aimed at paying for the public-sector pay raises declared by President Hosni Mubarak the day before.
The price rises, which were decided on jointly by the NDP and the Ministry of Finance, apply to cigarettes, high-octane gasoline, vehicle licensing fees, and natural gas for energy-intensive industries. The declared aim is to raise the LE 12 billion required to pay for the wage increases
By noon, the action had been debated in the People’s Assembly, was agreed on in the afternoon and then implemented in the evening. The new prices of high-octane fuel were in place by 10 pm.
Reactions to the changes from members of the public were somewhat mixed, with some seeing an element of justice in the move, while others predicted riots.
I do not mind that the prices of cigarettes increases, said a 40-year-old-female civil servant. “But it is really haram [religiously forbidden] that the government increases the price of high-octane fuel.
Agreeing with her, housewife Mona Ismail, 60, added: The government is trying to help the poor by taking money from the rich, because they are the ones who can afford to buy cars and smoke cigarettes, while the poor cannot afford to buy bread.
Meanwhile, a 27-year-old woman said: I expect protests to take place on the coming days as a result of this decision. And I mean real protests in which people will go running and screaming in the streets and will not settle until the government takes back its decision.
The government took with its left hand what it gave to us with its right hand, said a 50-year-old man.