Cyprus Mail

Minister urges consumers to vote with their feet

By Angelos Anastasiou

Energy minister Giorgos Lakkotrypis said on Monday that he was not happy with the retail price of fuel and basic consumer goods, and called on consumers to seek out and reward businesses that offer the lowest prices.

“I must say I’m not happy, as I’ve said many times before,” he said. “You can’t see the price of essential goods spike when oil prices go up, but not fall when oil prices drop.”

With regard to fuel prices, Lakkotrypis argued that the domestic market’s framework must be overhauled in order to bring about greater competition, both in the wholesale and retail trade.

Asked whether current fuel prices are justified, the Energy minister explained that prices fluctuate with some delay relative to international oil prices, but his ministry monitors constantly both retail prices and fuel imports.

“Whenever a new shipment [of fuel] arrives we check invoices and any other documents, to establish whether retail prices are justified,” he said.

Lakkotrypis added that certain issues raised by the Auditor-general with regard to the ministry are “being addressed.”

“However, what I want to stress on the issue of fuel prices is that since we have a free market, consumers will need to actively look for the lowest prices, the cheapest gas stations, and reward those that offer either the lowest price or the best service,” he said.

And with regard to the price of basic consumer goods, the energy minister said that “the prices of various products should follow the internationally declining trend of oil prices, to the extent that the two are linked”.

“For example, when it comes to imported and transported products, like animal feed,” he said.

He noted that the ministry keeps a constant eye on prices, but has a limited number of tools at its disposal.

“We try to intervene where prices don’t fall, but in a free market we can’t impose prices,” he said.

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