Arab states are wasting billions of dollars on energy subsidies but lack political will to end them for fear of public reaction, a UN report says.
A report compiled by the UN Development Program (UNDP) said six of the world's top 10 subsidizing countries are in the Arab world, led by Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, AFP reported on Wednesday.
People living in the aforementioned three states spend less than a third of global prices for petroleum and electricity.
The report, which quoted International Energy Agency figures, said Saudi Arabia spends over $43 billion, Qatar $4.15 billion, and Algeria $10.59 billion on energy subsides.
It added that Egypt pay more than $20 billion on energy subsidies, which eats up 9.3 percent of the country's gross domestic product.
The report contradicted Cairo’s policies, which claims that subsidies are helping low income people, and noted that subsidies are benefiting the rich more than the poor.
The top 20 percent income earners of Egypt take 33 percent of the energy subsidies, against 3.8 percent which goes to the poorest families.
The report underlined that the subsidies cause waste of national sources and hold up investment in renewable energy.
UN researchers stated that between 1980 and 2008, energy consumption in the Arab world had been tripled.
They concluded in the report that this money should be spent on infrastructure and social welfare programs.