Speech by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL S.Stefanou at the meeting in protest at the ongoing price increases in Nicosia city centre

26 February 2022, AKEL C.C. Press Office, Nicosia

We have gathered here today to protest about the price increases and the high cost of living. Not to say that there are price increases – people know this very well. They feel it in their pockets.

Price increases stresses, torments and puts pressure on people.

– Fuel prices have skyrocketed.

– The price of electricity causes electrocution.

– Prices of essential goods are draining the family budget.

We have gathered here to demand that the government take action. Citizens are demanding measures to enable them to cope with the difficulties and make ends meet.

But the DISY party Government stubbornly refuses to take action. It is provocatively indifferent. The government does not even acknowledge that there is indeed a problem.

Yet it is the one who has the responsibility to do so.

It has the responsibility to protect the country from price increases. All the more so since the problem of price increases is expected to be exacerbated by the war in Ukraine.

The government also has the moral responsibility to protect society and the economy from price increases. It bears a serious share of responsibility for the rise in prices of many essential goods.

● It is its incompetence that forces consumers to pay tens of millions of euros in fines for pollutants.

● It is its callousness that allows cartels and big interests to profiteer on fuel and other goods.

● It is its ideological dogmatism that leaves the country unprotected on electricity, grain and fuel.

It is not enough that the government is coldly indifferent to citizens, it is also provocative.

“Show us your proposals”, the government tells us, “don’t just protest.”

It says this at a time when the government is well aware that AKEL has tabled proposals. Specific, feasible and effective proposals, immediately implementable.

The reduction of VAT on electricity is AKEL’s proposal. It is a proposal that was made into law by an overwhelming majority in Parliament. However, the government not only did not implement it, but referred it to the Supreme Court.

So, we say that the government must proceed with the implementation of the reduction of VAT on electricity. This is, after all, what Europe is proposing, which DISY and the government frequently invoke to justify anti-social policies.

In addition, AKEL proposes:

● Ending the double taxation on fuel.

● Ending the tax on renewable energy sources in electricity bills.

● We demand an end of VAT on pollutants.

● We demand the use of funds from the pollutant Fund for targeted subsidies of electricity bills.

● We demand a reduction in VAT on essential goods.

● We demand a cap on essential goods.

These – among other things – are AKEL’s proposals to provide relief for consumers, especially the unemployed, the low-paid, low-income pensioners and young couples.

Where there is political will, there are ways to address issues. The DISY Government, however, lacks the political will to help ordinary people and workers.

The government only warmly embraces the banks and powerful interests.

In its attempt to justify its unacceptable attitude, we are sure that the government will again ask us: “and where will the money come from?”

We reply:

● From what the state additionally collects from increased prices. There are many millions of euros coming out of the pockets of taxpaying citizen.

● From the additional sums that go into the pollutant Fund. Amounts that the government has never said where they are allocated or channeled.

Really, how is it that whenever powerful interests and the banks, want incentives, the state is able to provide for them and when consumers demand protection the government declares itself unable to do so?

It is a matter of priorities, it is a question of policy and philosophy.
The Government and the ruling DISY party are, by nature and by position, are in favour of powerful interests.

Whereas we are by nature and by definition with the ordinary people, the workers, the people who need the support of the state.

We support them. We fight for them both in and out of parliament. It is for them that we are here today.

That is precisely why we will continue to push the government to take measures to tackle poverty.

Together we will continue the struggle and the effort. We call on citizens to join us in this effort that concerns everyone.

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