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CAIRO: Egypt said on Sunday its annual inflation rate topped 12% in March, from 10% in February, largely due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has strained world markets and driving oil prices to record highs.

Data released by the Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics shows price increases in many sectors, from fuel, electricity and groceries to housing, medical services and entertainment.

The figures cover the period from April 1, 2021 to March 30, 2022.

The hikes have placed a heavy burden on consumers, especially low-income households, and especially for basic necessities.

Most of Egypt’s more than 103 million people have suffered from rising prices since the government launched an ambitious reform program in 2016 to restructure the country’s struggling economy. Nearly 30% of Egyptians live in poverty, according to official figures.

Figures show food and drink prices rose 4.5% in March compared to February prices, with cereal and bread price increases reaching 11%.

The government last month announced fixed prices for unsubsidized bread for the next three months to combat the rise.

The acceleration in the increases came in the wake of the Central Bank’s decisions to raise its main interest rate and devalue the local currency against the US dollar to fight inflation.

To justify its March 21 decisions, the bank cited the war in Ukraine that has rocked the global economy and threatened food supplies and livelihoods for people around the world.

Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trade, was over $102 a barrel over the weekend after hitting a high near $140 in March.

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