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ECESR Contests Cabinet Decision to Increase Electricity Prices

On Sunday, December 9th 2012, lawyers of Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights “ECESR” filed Appeal No. 12452 for the judicial year 567 before Court of Administrative Justice in Cairo on behalf of Mrs. Zainab Ashmawy Ashmawy Mustafa, against : the President of the State , the Prime Minister, Minister of Electricity and Energy. The appeal cited Mrs. Ashmawy as working in one of the Public sector companies, reached the legal retirement age and now retired, and living in a house with her husband – also a retiree – and a son and daughter, earning a monthly pension of 1000 pounds, the average power consumption in winter is 300 – 500 kW, and the average consumption in the summer is 800 – 1300 kW.

The Appealer stated that she was surprised by governmental administrative authorities statement on behalf of PM Dr. Hisham Qandil (Second Respondent) in which he announced the decision of the Cabinet to increase electricity prices by 7% with a future target rate of 15%, and to swing this decision popularly, the government representatives announced that this increase will not affect low-income families, in an attempt to hide the fact that this increase will cast a substantial economic and social burden on every family from low to mid-income classes, exemplified in the appealer personal.

Mohammed Adel, lawyer at ECESR said that the average of what the appealer deducts of her pension to pay for power consumption is 2000-2500 annually according to old prices, added to that the cost of the other general services like Telephone, Gas, Water and Transportation, as well as commodity prices for family living and Health cost, which clearly shows that any increases in the prices of public services would constitute a large economic strain on the family and deprive them of the possibility of achieving a balance between acquired income and a decent livinghood. The rising prices of electricity and taxes would force households to abandon part of the food consumption or needed health service in order to pay the bills, especially in view of the low wages and pensions in the society, and the absence of a minimum wage that commensurate with the consumer basket and the average sustenance ratio in the society, which means that new electricity prices, and by extension rest of the services, will increase the gap – that is already widened – between wages and prices.

Mr. Adel asserted that the contested decision aims only to enable public companies from collecting money without taking into account the social dimension of the service they provide, and without any consideration to the social and economic framework restraining all households, which besets any rationale for marketing this price increase and renders it profoundly unsubstantiated.