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Egypt hiked the prices of cigarettes on Thursday, the latest measure amid reforms designed to overhaul the country’s troubled economy still reeling from a costly 2011 uprising.
The announcement was made by the chairman of Egypt’s top cigarette manufacturer in a televised interview late Wednesday. Mohamed Haroun, Eastern Tobacco Company chairman, said his company will impose an increase of 1.5-3 Egyptian pounds, or about 8-17 cents, per pack of smokes.
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The increase would, among other things, help fund a new health services system by over 3 billion Egyptian pounds annually, or $168 million, he said.
Egyptians consume about 83 billion cigarettes each year, according to Haroun. He noted that process of cigarettes had gone up about five times between 2014 and 2017.
Egypt recently introduced a new wave of price hikes for fuel, drinking water and electricity, as well as for new cellular phone lines and monthly landline phone bills. Prices for issuing passports and car licenses also went up steeply.
Poor and middle-class Egyptians have suffered the hardest the adverse effects of reforms, which began after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi took office in 2014.
Price hikes and subsidy cuts have been accelerated after the floatation of the national currency in 2016 as part of measures taken to qualify for a three-year $12-billion bailout loan from the International Monetary Fund to support the government’s reform program.
Other austerity measures, including a value-added tax, were also imposed.
El-Sissi recently said the reforms have put Egypt on “the right track” and urged patience as they take effect. In a July address in parliament, Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly said the people should start benefiting from the reform program within two years.