World Economy

Egypt Economic Slump Hurting Middle Class

Egypt Economic Slump Hurting Middle Class
Egypt Economic Slump Hurting Middle Class

Until a few years ago, Reda Mahmoud, an employee at a Cairo private bank, used to take his wife and their two children out for dinner. But now, even with the added salary of his wife, a civil servant, he cannot afford to.

“My wife and I earn around 4,500 (Egyptian) pounds ($506.9) every month. But even with this money, which is a lot compared to what most Egyptians make, we can hardly cope with the soaring costs of living,” he said, Alahram reported.

“Prices of everything have gone crazy: food, private lessons and taxes. I’ve already asked some friends to find me a second job in order to earn extra money.”

Mahmoud, who is living in a flat he owns in the northern Cairo area of Shubra, is one of millions from Egypt’s middle class who are increasingly feeling the pinch of economic pressure in the Arab world’s most populous country.

Egypt’s economy has been in the doldrums due to the unrest, which followed the 2011 uprising that forced long-time president Hosni Mubarak out of power.

In recent months, prices of different commodities have increased in the import-reliant country amid a sharp drop in foreign currency revenues.

“This is the worst time for the middle class,” said Khalid, a 65-year-old pensioner.

“In the past, I would give some money to my married sons. I can no longer do this because I can hardly live and support my wife with my pension of 2,900 pounds with this soaring inflation,” added Khalid, an ex-manager at the education ministry.

Inflation in Egypt was officially put at 14.6% in September, compared to 9.4% the same month last year.

The rate is expected to further rise due to a widely anticipated devaluation of the Egyptian pound as part of a package of economic reforms that the government says is necessary to revitalize the flagging economy.

Egypt is seeking a $12-billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund over three years to this end.

The loan was initially agreed in August. The IMF executive board has yet to approve it. The Egyptian government has repeatedly said that the world financing institution has set no condition for it to obtain the loan and that the reform steps are home-grown.

They include cutting state subsidy on energy and introducing new taxes.

The middle class makes up nearly 50 million of Egypt’s 91 million population, according to the state-run Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.


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