By Annette Chrysostomou
Prices of products sold in the north are now almost 50 per cent lower than in the government-controlled areas according to a survey by the Turkish Cypriot Chamber of Commerce, following the massive fall in the Turkish lira.
The survey, conducted on September 6, was published in the newspaper Halkin Sesi which listed 46 products for which prices were compared. The whole food basket containing the 46 products comes to €121.51 in the north, 48 per cent less than in the south, where it would cost €180.38 to buy.
According to the table, one litre of a cleaning product costs on average €0.87 in the north and €2.81 in the south, one kilo of flour is sold for €0.54 compared with €1.50, while the difference for one litre of milk is €0.27 versus €1.23. Tomatoes are nearly three times as expensive in the south (1 kilo for €2.50) than in the north (€0.88).
While some products are cheaper in the government-controlled areas, such as toothpaste, popcorn, butter and instant coffee, most now cost more for Turkish Cypriots to buy due to the exchange rate.
The devaluation of the Turkish Lira has led to a flood of Greek Cypriots crossing over at checkpoints who take advantage of the lower prices for items like food, petrol, which is forbidden, and medicines, which are not. There has been an 81 per cent increase in south-north movement this year while traffic has fallen 14 per cent among Turkish Cypriots crossing to shop.
A third lane on the north side of the Ayios Dhometios checkpoint has just been opened to help deal with congestion.
According to the Green Line Regulation, the maximum value of goods contained a person can cross with is €260.
Goods listed in the regulation up to this amount can be brought in free of customs, excise duties and taxes across the line. The same rules do not apply to petrol, tobacco, cigarettes, and alcohol, which are either limited or forbidden.