BEIRUT

Middle East

Tour de force Sisi asks Egyptians to take pressure off fuel subsidies

Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (C, in white) rides a bicycle with few hundred Egyptians outside the military college in Cairo, June 13, 2014, in this handout picture provided by the Egyptian Presidency. (REUTERS/Egyptian Presidency)

CAIRO: Wearing sporting gear including cycling gloves, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi asked Egyptians Friday to cycle and walk more to help the cash-strapped government that spends tens of billions of dollars a year on fuel subsidies.

The former army chief gave one of his first speeches since last Sunday’s inauguration to several hundred Egyptians on bicycles at a military college in Cairo before taking part in a cycling race.

Cyclists are rarely seen in Cairo, where chaotic traffic regularly clogs up large parts of the city.

Egypt spent about 170 billion Egyptian pounds ($24 billion) – or around a fifth of its budget – on energy subsidies this fiscal year ending June 30, according to state media, and plans to cut that to 104 billion next year.

Energy prices in Egypt are among the lowest in the world and although successive governments have called for subsidy reform none have dared impose big price rises for fear of unrest.

“If you use your car, you pay around 4 pounds for 20 or 25 kilometers and Egypt pays 8 pounds for those 20 kilometers,” the president said in a speech.

“If 3,000 people did this [cycling] with me, how much would that be per day?” he said.

Artificially low prices for electricity, butane and fuel at filling stations provide little incentive to curb consumption, despite a fuel supply crisis that causes daily blackouts.

Power generation in Egypt is largely dependent on natural gas, now in short supply after long-term policy decisions on investment have been put off repeatedly, partly due to three years of political turmoil and uprisings in the region.

Sisi deposed elected Islamist President Mohammad Morsi in July following mass unrest against his rule and won more than 96 percent of the vote in elections last month.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 14, 2014, on page 11.

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

Wearing sporting gear including cycling gloves, President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi asked Egyptians Friday to cycle and walk more to help the cash-strapped government that spends tens of billions of dollars a year on fuel subsidies.

The former army chief gave one of his first speeches since last Sunday's inauguration to several hundred Egyptians on bicycles at a military college in Cairo before taking part in a cycling race.

Egypt spent about 170 billion Egyptian pounds ($24 billion) – or around a fifth of its budget – on energy subsidies this fiscal year ending June 30, according to state media, and plans to cut that to 104 billion next year.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here