The increase in food prices accelerated in Egypt in May, when the cost of a basket of 45 staple food items showed a mighty leap of nearly 100 per cent from the same month a year earlier, consumers complained on Saturday
They said that food price inflation was almost 100 per cent respectively.
Items monitored for the inflation figures include meat, beans, rice, sugar, fruits and dairy products.
Some consumers, who asked not to be identified, have accused the January 25 revolution and lack of Government’s control over markets of directly fuelling the price rises. They also expressed concern that the inflation will remain high for months and years to come.
“People are poor, very poor. They are angry over the rising price of food,” says Hassan Omran, a Government employee.
Omran complained that one kilo of sugar now costs six Egyptian pounds and pasta costs five pounds.
“We can’t live like that. God help us. What can we do?” he asked.
Wafaa Sulieman, a housewife, said that she buys a kilo of okra for 9 Egyptian pounds.
“I know it is expensive, but what can I do?
“Life is expensive, I can barely afford to keep myself and my family. We live on fried potatoes, but even this is becoming difficult because oil is so expensive too,” Wafaa, a mother of three, said.
“It is bad for everyone. Prices used to go up annually, now they go up every day. What will the Government of Essam Sharaf will do after this month is over? Cooking oil is just as expensive as it was, so is flour,” she added.
Many consumers in the Cairo neighbourhood of Hadayek el-Kobba expressed their disappointment at the price increases including fuel, diesel and cigarettes.
“These price hikes will cause public anger after the Egyptians were happy with Finance Minister Samir Radwan’s proposal to increase wages by 15 per cent last week,” Emad Hakim, a Government employee, sadly said.
“Consumers will bear another burden when they buy food items,” he said, complaining that an on-going fuel shortage has raised the transportation costs for foodstuffs and vegetables, and again the consumers will pay for it.
The Government’s efforts are focused on addressing many of the economic ills, that helped fuel the Jan. 25 uprising that led to former president Hosni Mubarak’s resignation after 30 years in power. Some of the problems including high unemployment and rising inflation have worsened since the uprising because continuing protests have undercut government efforts to restore normalcy.
The transitional government has had to deal with labour unrest over wages and working conditions, which has reduced manufacturing activity, while key revenue sources like tourism and foreign direct investment have taken a drubbing.
The government is eying a $38 billion development plan, according to Egyptian media, and will need to borrow heavily to cover the costs. The International Monetary Fund said last month that Egypt indicated it will need between $10 billion to $12 billion through June 2012. Separately, the country is also near to securing a $2.2 billion loan from the World Bank, officials have said.
Government officials said that economy had been severely affected by the political crisis that has shaken the country and called for international aid.
At the height of the revolt Egypt was haemorrhaging more than $300 million a day.