CAIRO, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's electricity and energy minister announced on Thursday a new increase in electricity prices ranging from 18 to 42 percent, based on consumption.
It is part of the country's economic reform program that includes lifting energy subsidies completely within a few years, according to the minister.
"To make it easy for citizens, the complete removal of electricity subsidies is extended until 2021," said Electricity and Renewable Energy Minister Mohamed Shaker at a press conference aired on the state TV on Thursday.
The minister said that Egypt spent 64 billion Egyptian pounds (about 3.58 billion U.S. dollars) on electricity subsidies during the 2016/2017 fiscal year that has just ended in late June.
The electricity hikes came a week after the government raised fuel prices up to 55.3 percent and doubled the price of a gas cylinder that is used at many homes and restaurants.
The fuel price hike was the second since November 2016 while the electricity tariff was last raised in August 2016.
The electricity minister said that the hike of the U.S. dollar exchange rate against the Egyptian pound affected the electricity prices.
"We do not just want to raise the prices. If the dollar rate goes down, we will reduce the current tariff as well," Shaker told reporters during the conference.
Suffering an economic crisis over the past few years due to political issues and security challenges, Egypt fully floated its local currency last November as part of a three-year strict economic reform program, which is encouraged and supported by a 12-billion-dollar loan from the International Monetary Fund.
The fuel and energy price hikes lead to price increase in almost all commodities and services in the most populous Arab country and greatly pressure low-income citizens.