The current circumstances have made it hard for experts to predict how much money is enough for a small family to live a fair life in Egypt.
With the high inflation rate on the rise due to value-added taxation, the majority of Egyptians are unsatisfied with their income which, unlike almost every product or service, did not increase in kind.
Almost every family that Daily News Egypt surveyed expressed their need for more money due to the higher cost of living. Egyptians don’t know how they will continue to afford to live the same life they had before.
The anger expressed by the interviewees shows that even if they cannot adapt to a more expensive life, it’s going to happen anyway—and the government’s promises to control prices haven’t been realised yet, if they ever will be.
Rising prices leave Egyptian families unfulfilled by their incomes
Inflation and scarce supplies are pushing up the prices of almost everything. However, salaries have not been increased to keep up with the price hikes. Daily News Egypt spoke to several Egyptian families to find out how their economic circumstances and standard of living have changed, and how far their monthly income takes them nowadays.
Sara Adel considers her family of five to be of lower-middle class. Her father earns almost EGP 2,500 a month working in a small grocery which she says is not enough, adding that EGP 5,000 would be more suitable for them to live a fair life.
Nader is a journalist and his wife is a lawyer. Their daughter is 20 years old. Their combined income is almost EGP 8,000, which he deems fair. He said that nowadays, a small family would be unable to live on less than EGP 5,000 a month due to the high prices.
Nevine Assad, on the other hand, said that her four-person family is fine with their income of EGP 3,000.
Mohamed Nagy is 25. His father is an accountant at a cement company and his mother a teacher. Their total income is almost EGP 4,000 for a family of seven. Nagy, who lives with his family in Shoubra, believes that EGP 7,000 might be enough for a good standard of living.
Samar Hassan is a dentist and mother of two children. Her husband, who works in the same field in a governmental hospital, said that their salaries are between EGP 8,000-10,000, which is not bad.
According to Hassan, a family living in Haram needs a salary of more than EGP 2,000-3,000 to satisfy its monthly needs.
Ibrahim Mostafa said that the current economic circumstances have badly affected his family, especially as his EGP 3,000 salary was not raised. He added that his gas, electricity, and water bills are unreasonable, which makes him feel that an income of EGP 10,000 would be enough for him and his three-person family.
Hadeer was the only person surveyed who was satisfied with her family income of EGP 7,000—even with four children. She believes that their standard of living is good, but it would be better if they had an additional EGP 1,500 per month.
Everything is getting more expensive, but our fares remained unchanged for the past year: microbus drivers
As the cost of living in Egypt increases day after day, the cost of private transportation has not changed since former prime minister Ibrahim Mehleb left office in September 2015. Contrary to this, governmental buses raised the cost of their ticket from EGP 1 to EGP 2.5.
Despite the rising cost of living, seemingly unstoppable, the fares of microbuses and taxis did not change. A lot of drivers would like to increase their fares, but believe that the move would not be possible without an order from the government.
One of the oldest microbus drivers in Abdel Moneim Riad bus station, named Ibrahim, said that the cost of operating his microbus has gone up tremendously, stating that the price engine oil alone increased from EGP 105 to more than EGP 135.
Ibrahim, who usually drives people from Tahrir Square to King Faisal Street for EGP 2, said that if EGP 0.5 were added to the fare, it might help him curb the burden of high costs.
He added that a lot of people from rural areas are operating illegally, but that the government doesn’t care about that.
Essmat, a 50-year-old driver, said that the price of brake pads went from EGP 45 to EGP 80.
He believes that a fare increase of EGP 0.5 would not help, explaining that controlling the spare parts market and setting reasonable prices for each of its products would be much more beneficial.
Ibrahim added that the price of changing a tyre jumped from EGP 450 to more than EGP 800. He noted that the living conditions during the era of former president Hosni Mubarak were much better, saying that earning EGP 100 for 8 hours of work a day greatly satisfied his family’s needs.
Essmat stated that now, he is working more than 12 hours a day to make more money, because EGP 100 is not enough at all.
“We cannot raise the fare without permission”, he stated, adding that unlike taxi drivers who can tamper with the fare estimator, microbus drivers would go to jail if they tried to even negotiate with the passengers to pay more money.
Ashraf, a young driver who is planning to get married soon, said that thinking about his future makes him sad because he doesn’t know how much more expensive life can get.
He added that he cannot save any money nowadays to help him get married, since everything he earns is not even enough to buy an apartment. “I don’t even dream of throwing a wedding,” he stated.
“Our stomachs are tired of eating koshari,” a driver told Daily News Egypt on condition of anonymity, adding: “Everything we eat is expensive now and the government does not seem to care about the poor. It knows that meat and chicken are way too expensive for us to eat on daily basis.”
He believes that the fare would go up soon if the gas prices increase in October, which would help them survive.