Lifting the prices of natural gas has a “minimal” effect on the state’s budget, Mirs Al-Qawia (Strong Egypt) Party said on Sunday, describing the attempt to decrease the state’s expenses on subsidising fuel as “futile”.
Starting May, natural gas prices will be increased, as per a ministerial decree issued last week. The cabinet announced that users of less than 25 cubic metres will pay EGP 0.40 per cubic metre; users who consume between 25 and 50 cubic metres will pay EGP 1; and those who consume above 50 cubic metres will be required to pay EGP 1.5.
Government revenues, generated from an increase in natural gas prices, will be used to finance the delivery of natural gas to homes, a Tuesday statement from the cabinet said.
In a statement released on Monday, Misr Al-Qawia said that natural gas subsidies make up less than 9% of the state budget portion dedicated to fuel subsidies. It added that domestic use of natural gas marks only 1.8% of the fuel’s national consumption.
Increasing the prices of fuels used in heavy industries would have been more useful, the party said.
As it excludes the electricity generation sector and bakeries, the price hike is expected to only affect citizens whose homes have a connection to the natural gas network.
Misr Al-Qawia described the decision as a “continuation to the approaches of [former President Hosni] Mubarak’s regime”. It added that the decision favours businessmen at the expense of middle class and low-income citizens.
“Such decisions, which affect citizens’ daily lives, should be issued by an elected government, rather than the current appointed one,” the party said. It described the current government as “unrepresentative of the masses which took to the streets on 25 January 2011, calling for social justice and involvement in the decision-making process”.
It vowed to “expose” any decision the authorities take which could harm less privileged citizens, adding that it will work on creating legislation that can help achieve “genuine” social justice.
Misr Al-Qawia noted that restructuring the current subsidies system is a “necessity”, seeing that the rich are the dominant beneficiaries of such a system. It nevertheless added that such restructuring should be part of a “comprehensive plan” to decrease its negative impact on less privileged citizens.
Facing its worst energy crisis in years, the Egyptian government is struggling to come up with solutions to the fuel shortage. Citizens are mostly outraged over the frequent power cuts, gradually increasing to unprecedented levels throughout the past couple of years.
Additional reporting by Doaa Farid