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Egypt inflation rebounds, pressure on govt

Cairo, October 11, 2013

Egypt's urban consumer price inflation rebounded in September, complicating the army-backed interim government's efforts to dampen popular unrest as it moves toward a new constitution and elections.

The state statistics agency Capmas said inflation rose to an annual 10.1 percent from 9.7 percent in August. Inflation in July was 10.3 percent, its fastest in two years.

Analysts said a reduction in political violence following the army's ousting of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi in July helped reignite inflation by spurring the economy.

The Egyptian authorities imposed a nightly curfew on Aug 14 after its dispersal of Mursi supporters protesting at two Cairo sit-ins ignited countrywide violence.

This touched off the worst spasm of bloodshed in Egypt's modern history: hundreds of Mursi backers and more than 100 members of the security forces were killed. Many Egyptians stayed at home and many businesses remained closed for days.

The curfew, initially for 11 hours, was shortened to nine hours on Aug 24 as political violence faded and to only five hours starting at midnight on Sept 19.

"The reduction in curfew hours, the start of the school season and the announcement of a second consecutive policy rate cut, in addition to a relative pick-up in industrial activity as the interim cabinet solves pending issues have all contributed to increased domestic demand," Beltone Research said in a note.

An army-backed interim government has taken a series of populist measures to make life easier for the average citizen as it charts its way through a tough political transition.

The cabinet in August approved a 22.3 billion Egyptian pound ($3.24 billion) stimulus package that will focus on labour-intensive projects, and on Wednesday Trade and Industry Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour told Reuters the government planned a second, similar package early next year.

The government has also increased the minimum wage for government employees to 1,200 pounds a month.

The central bank said fruit and vegetables prices jumped by 3.35 percent during September alone, bringing their cumulative increase from the beginning of the year to 34.1 percent.

The government last week warned merchants it would impose price controls on produce if they did not keep prices down.

Core inflation, which strips out subsidised goods and volatile items including fruit and vegetables, rose to 11.15 percent year-on-year in September from 8.97 percent in August, the central bank said on Thursday. - Reuters




Tags: Egypt | inflation |

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