Mar 8, 10:50 AM EST

Egypt's inflation declines ahead of election

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CAIRO (AP) -- Egypt's central bank says inflation dropped to 14.4 percent in February from 17 percent the month before, continuing a decline since it peaked last summer.

Inflation surged beginning in 2016 after President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi's government slashed subsidies and floated the currency, austerity measures needed to secure a $12 billion bailout from the International Monetary Fund. Those actions caused the price of basic goods to spike, and took a heavy toll on poor and middle-class Egyptians.

The latest figures, announced Thursday, show core inflation, which excludes volatile commodities like food and energy, of 11.88 percent, down from 14.35 percent in January.

Egypt hopes to bring inflation down to 13 percent this year.

Egypt is holding an election later this month in which el-Sissi faces no serious challengers.

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