Egypt hikes private-sector wages again after pound devaluations

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Egypt hiked the minimum wage for private-sector workers for the second time in six months, as a series of dramatic currency devaluations leaves tens of millions of people struggling with soaring living costs.

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The National Council of Wages approved raising the figure 11 percent to 3,000 Egyptian pounds ($97.10) per month, Planning Minister Hala El-Saeed said in a statement Tuesday. In December, authorities upped the minimum wage to 2,700 pounds from the level of 2,400 pounds set a year before.

The latest increase comes as the Middle East’s most populous country is pummeled by inflation that accelerated to almost 33 percent in May, mainly due to surging food prices. The Egyptian pound lost about half its value since early 2022 as the government raced to turn around an economy heavily exposed to the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The devaluations have made crucial imports significantly more expensive.

Last week, President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi made one of his starkest warnings yet about the challenges facing the country, saying Egyptians won’t be able to bear further price rises. He said the issue had become one of national security. That appeared to suggest further devaluations of the pound may not come as quickly as some economists and analysts had been expecting.

Egypt agreed on a $3 billion loan program with the International Monetary Fund last year and is pressing ahead with reforms including the sale of dozens of state assets. Privatization deals are key to raising the foreign currency authorities likely need before enacting another devaluation.

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