This is destabilizing and escalating.

Egypt’s Soaring Food Prices Bring Bread Lines, Deficit Pressure

By Abeer Allam and Daniel Williams

 

(Bloomberg) Atyat Musa Bakri, a Cairo mother of nine children, was waiting in line to buy subsidized bread for the third time in one day.

“The more cheap bread I can get, the better,” she said as a crowd of about 30 women jostled at a bakery in the Boulaq district. “The price of everything is going up and up, so I save on this. I spend all morning buying cheap bread.”

Bread is just about the only affordable food these days in Egypt, where rising commodity and energy prices have sent unsubsidized food prices up 20 percent or more in the past year. The rising cost of subsidies is damaging the government’s efforts to reduce its budget deficit.

About 500 political activists and textile workers at the Mahallah El-Kobra factory in northern Egypt were arrested and dozens were wounded in clashes with police on April 6 as the government clamped down on a one-day national strike to protest food inflation. In Mahallah itself, demonstrators threw stones at police phalanxes and set fire to trash.

The government-owned Egyptian Gazette newspaper said April 1 that seven people have died since the beginning of the year in brawls in bread lines.

Egyptian inflation accelerated to 12.1 percent in February, the fastest pace in 11 months, the Cairo-based Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics reported March 19. Food and beverage prices increased 16.8 percent, while non-subsidized bread and grain prices jumped 27 percent. Dairy products and eggs rose 20.1 percent.

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