CAIRO - Egypt spent nothing on electricity subsidies in the second half of 2019, down from 7.992 billion Egyptian pounds ($510.02 million) the same period a year earlier, a finance ministry semi-annual report showed.
Scaling back energy subsidies that have been a strain on the budget for decades was a central part of a three-year, $12 billion reform package signed with the International Monetary Fund in 2016.
The North African country has increased electricity prices for both households and industry by an average of about 15% over the 2019-2020 fiscal year that began in July.
It said its goal is to cut electricity subsidy spending to four billion Egyptian pounds for the full fiscal year.
An electricity ministry spokesman did not respond immediately to a request for a comment.
The report, which was published on Monday, showed Egypt also cut its spending on energy subsidies, excluding power, to 9.88 billion Egyptian pounds in the second half of 2019 from 30.17 billion in the second half of 2018.
The government, however, has said it was working to limit the impact on the poor and its subsidies of commodities, such as sugar, grains and vegetable oils, rose slightly to 24.93 billion Egyptian pounds in the second half of calendar year 2019, up from 24.37 billion pounds in the same period the year before.
Egypt's Minister of Electricity Mohamed Shaker rejected Sunday MPs’ request to lower electricity prices for local factories.
“This would cost us a hefty amount of money, which could be as high as EGP 10 billion,” said Shaker.
But head of the industrial committee Mohamed Farag Amer warned that local industries would collapse unless electricity prices were lowered.
“This is a very important demand in order to stimulate industrial growth, boost exports, and create greater employment opportunities,” Amer told the media.
“It is very bad that the government subsidises electricity prices for those who watch TV and ignore those who operate factories,” he added.