Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Ever Higher

After the protest in April, the Egyptian government announced that they would be raising the salaries of the public sector employees by 30%....everyone was very happy. Then in the last couple of days it's been announced that there are going to be price rises in the neighbourhood of 50% or more in many fairly central areas. Gasoline for cars is going up from about LE 1.4 to LE 1.9 a litre and the propane bottles for cooking are going up about 50% as well. While Egypt has been subsidising a lot for the population for years and no one can continue that forever, most of the population are utterly unaware of the fact that they've been in a protective bubble all this time. So their perception of all this is not at all friendly or understanding. There seems to be a prevailing attitude here that everything is on a "need to know" basis...and no one really needs to know. But it's time, I believe, for the Egyptian government to realise that one way or another the people of the country will learn about things and it's usually better to learn it from the government...seems to me that was the argument for sex education in the 60's too as I recall..better not to learn it in the streets? Be that as it may, a concerted effort on the part of the powers that be here to let the populace understand that at some point even government money runs out might be a good idea.

But the math here is not very good because even with the salary increases, with the gas price increase the inflation rate will still outrun the salary increases by a significant amount. The price of gas is going to be added on to all the food prices, the cost of transport of everything, right down to my hay trucks. And then I notice that they only put a 10% tax increase on cigarettes. Ok, boys, smarten up. By increasing the price of cigarettes by 100%, they are still cheaper than anywhere else in the world AND you might actually get people to stop smoking and costing the entire system tons of money in health costs. But dollars to donuts, the guys doing these figures are smokers.

copyright 2008 Maryanne Stroud Gabbani