Statements by the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL S.Stefanou during his visit to the Anthoupolis popular market
27 February 2022, AKEL C.C. Press Office, Nicosia
● Asked whether the visit to the Anthoupolis market is about price increases and whether it is a continuation of AKEL’s previous meetings with the Cyprus Confederation of Professional Craftsmen and Shopkeepers (POVEK) and the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KEBE), the General Secretary of the C.C. of AKEL replied:
SS: We had a meeting with POVEK, followed by a meeting with KEBE and next week we shall have a meeting with the Cyprus Employers & Industrialists Federation (OEB), because it has been rightly said that of course the main issue is price issues, but at the same time there are various other issues which are objectively closely related.
The issue of the economy, for example. In the meetings we had with both POVEK and KEBE, as well as in the meeting that we will have with OEB, we are discussing the economy and AKEL’s proposal for the need to formulate a new developmental model of the Cyprus economy that should be characterised by sustainability, depth and a balance, which unfortunately does not exist today.
In this way, we can fortify the Cyprus economy from any negative developments that are developing internationally and today you can see how the Cyprus economy is very much affected. At the same time we can exploit the comparative advantages that Cyprus has as a country and as a geographical location with its characteristics and to open up prospects so that we can integrate into this economic activity new technologies, the green economy and generally all the modern trends that exist internationally.
However, I must say that the main concern arising from the contacts we have with people and various organisations currently is the high cost of living and price increases. We are not just identifying the problem that exists with price increases that is not current, but it goes back several months. We’ve been pointing it out to the government, and the reason we’re pointing it out is because the government doesn’t seem to understand the problem that exists, its magnitude and how many people are really suffering and being squeezed by the problem of price increases.
At the same time, AKEL does not confine itself to merely issuing statements. It also submits specific, feasible, effective and easily implementable proposals. For example, our proposal to reduce VAT on electricity from 19% to 9% became law as it was passed by a large majority in parliament. Instead of DISY government harnessing this law and making use of the goodwill shown by the opposition party to help, the President referred the law to the Supreme Court questioning its constitutionality. We believe that if the government really wants to help people, it must bring it back.
Secondly, we propose the abolition of the double taxation on fuel. People are currently paying excise duty on fuel, at the same time as there is VAT on excise duty. VAT should be abolished.
Thirdly, we believe that the fee consumers pay on their electricity bills for renewables should also be abolished, since Cyprus, due to the incompetence of the government, is drawing tens of millions of euros for pollutants, there is also the fund for pollutants and this money – in accordance with the European Union directive – should be partly used so that electricity bills are reduced, whilst at the same time investing in the penetration of RES in the production of electricity. Cyprus is currently in the penultimate position in Europe in terms of the penetration of renewable energy sources.
We also propose that there are some other activities that will help the issues more broadly. Today the issue of cereals is being raised, which was also there a few months ago both because of the increase in the price of cereals internationally and because of the lack of strategic stocks/reserves in Cyprus. The government erroneously dismantled the Cyprus Grains Commission. What we are saying is that the government should take action to use the silos that exist, that are in working condition, to come to an understanding with traders who now have the situation with the grain in their hands so that we can have strategic stocks and see how we can control as much as possible the prices which have already started to rise and will rise even more because of the situation with Ukraine.
So the message that I would like to send is that this government has the political responsibility to protect people from price increases and at the same time it has the moral responsibility to do so because a large share of the responsibility for the increase in the price of essential goods in fuel and electricity belongs to this government’s incompetence which did not take seek to ensure neither the arrival of natural gas for power generation purposes in Cyprus, nor to build the necessary infrastructure so as to ensure energy security in Cyprus, nor in relation to fuels. So instead of just following apathetically the situation developing into a scourge for the people, the government needs to take action. We are proposing very concrete measures.
● Asked about the Finance Minister’s tweet yesterday, the General Secretary of AKEL replied:
SS: I would say to Mr. Petridis instead of trying to deliver lessons in high geopolitics, which he is obviously now just discovering, to do the job he should have been doing long ago. It is Mr. Petrides himself who had said a few months ago that there is no problem with price increases, that it is a transitory phenomenon. The government ruling forces have not taken any measures to deal with price increases, nor have they prepared Cyprus in case there are such negative developments as the war in Ukraine.
So Mr. Petrides should provide an answer on behalf of the government as to how the DISY government is fortifying Cyprus in relation to what is happening around us and what it will assert from Europe regarding the impact that any sanctions will have on European economies and what we are asking for as European solidarity to protect the Cyprus economy.
We do not expect the Finance Minister and the government to deliver us lessons in geopolitics, we expect them to tell us how they will protect the people as they ought to be doing.
● Asked about AKEL’s contacts with the Democratic Party DIKO, Stefanos Stefanou replied:
SS: It has been announced that next Tuesday I will have a meeting with the President of the Democratic Party Mr. Nicolas Papadopoulos. Both parties conclude that the country has reached the bottom and we need to bring change, end the rule of DISY and create the preconditions for a progressive change in the governance of the country. This is the subject of the debate. After the first meeting I believe we will be able to say more.

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