Egypt TV host wears energy bills for price hike report

Gaber al-Qarmouty wearing the utility bills Image copyright ONTV
Image caption Gaber al-Qarmouty made his point about energy bills in unusual fashion

An Egyptian TV presenter has appeared on air covered in utility bills in order to highlight public anger over soaring energy costs.

Gaber al-Qarmouty wore what looked liked an enormous envelope plastered with bills, telling his ONTV audience that he had noticed a spike in prices, too. "The issue is not just about the electricity bill, it is actually water and gas too," he said. "I do not want to incite against the state, but I must say there is a crisis regarding the electricity bills, we're really feeling the pinch."

The Egyptian government announced in 2015 that it would gradually start lifting electricity subsidies over the next five years, anticipating that prices would double in that period. But for some consumers the increase seems to have been far more sudden.

For days, Egyptians have been venting their frustrations as part of an online campaign called "catch a bill", with many posting copies of their own utility charges. Some social media users complain that prices have doubled or even tripled compared to only a few months ago. "Gas, electricity and water bills now cost more than renting a flat," one user wrote on Twitter.

The Al-Misry al-Youm daily published a number of examples, including one man's electricity bill which stood at 99.75 Egyptian pounds ($11; £8) in February, but rose to to 228 pounds the following month.

In response to the public outcry, MP John Talaat announced that he'll present an urgent statement to parliament asking Prime Minister Sherif Ismail to explain the price rises. "There is no room to add more burden on the citizens," he wrote on Facebook.

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