By Angelos Anastasiou
SOME of the measures for more effective monitoring of the price of fuel imports are already being implemented, with the rest to follow soon, Energy minister Yiorgos Lakkotrypis told state radio on Friday.
He was referring to a series of actions by the government in order to address reduced competitiveness in both the retail and wholesale fuel markets, diagnosed as the key driver of high prices in Cyprus, unveiled in parliament last month.
“We had announced a number of measures, and all are in the implementation phase,” Lakkotrypis said.
These included greater transparency in retail fuel prices, more effective oversight of wholesale imports, and facilitating competition, both in the retail and the wholesale market.
According to the Energy minister, the transparency measure has been completed, since a ministerial decree last month demanded that all gas stations provide fuel pricing data in real time.
The second measure – more effective oversight – is well underway, the minister said, as consultants have already been commissioned to devise proposals for more effective control over wholesale fuel imports.
“This measure will be completed by the end of July,” he said.
With regard to the final measure, the ministry called for a week-long public consultation earlier this week, inviting the general public to offer their views on how greater competition can be facilitated in the fuel market.
“We are at the stage of consultation at this point, with regard to the strategy of improving competition in the fuel market,” Lakkotrypis said.
“Aside from these measures, there is also an ongoing effort by the Competition Commission, which has been investigating this issue for years, and all our efforts are focused on creating a more competitive market, both in the retail and the wholesale market.”
Public resentment at uneven fuel price fluctuations – slow to drop and fast to rise, or what is known as the ‘rocket and feather’ effect – has been recorded for years.
Lakkotrypis said this phenomenon has been observed since 2004, when the market was liberalised with the country’s accession to the European Union, but no substantial action has been taken since then to tackle the issue.
A 2013 report by the Auditor-general also found weaknesses in the ministry’s monitoring of fuel imports.
“We are trying to improve our monitoring, so that we can comply with the Auditor-general’s recommendations, but mainly to improve market conditions to the consumers’ benefit,” he said.