The island’s consumer and quality of life association on Monday criticised the government for failing to act decisively in an effort to ease the burden of the rapidly rising cost of living faced by households nationwide, especially mountain households, ahead of the winter season.
“We call on the government to study and prepare a detailed support programme for heating, for the residents of the mountainous areas and in general for all those in need, in view of the upcoming winter,” the Pancyprian Association of Consumers and Quality of Life said.
In an announcement issued on Monday on the energy crisis, the association called on the government to fully release the cost of electricity from pollutants and related taxes and to limit the cost of the kilowatt-hour produced by photovoltaics to its real cost which is less than 10 cents, it said.
It also called for appropriate taxation to be imposed on the excess profits of photovoltaic companies and to deliver the result to consumers.
In addition, it called for the government itself to disengage from the massive profits it has earned from both electricity and fuel and to return them back to consumers.
“The governments of all countries in various ways make decisions and take actions to discharge consumers by implementing various measures…The general practice is to release the cost of electricity from unnecessary burdens that have accumulated over time and which were not given importance before…In our country, nothing relevant has been announced and the government’s tax collection policy continues without sensitivities and with half-measures in the direction of the consumer,” the Pancyprian Association of Consumers and Quality of Life said in a press release.
Consumers in Cyprus pay some of the highest electricity bills in Europe according to Eurostat data.
Meanwhile, inflation in August 2022 increased by 8.9 per cent in Cyprus, according to data published by the Statistical Service of Cyprus.
“Cypriot consumers continue to pay electricity tariffs inflated by the unjust ones for the same pollutants, on which they also pay VAT. Consumers have no responsibility for the fact that the absence of public transport imposes the extensive use of the private car, which in any case costs them more. Nor do consumers have responsibilities if for the production of electricity, the EAC, the state monopoly, continues to burn diesel and fuel oil,” the association continued.
The group also highlighted the fact that the state has been slow to promote and introduce the use of alternative energy sources (Renewable Energy Sources), which could be a more economically favourable option for consumers, who have also been hit by ongoing spikes in prices at the petrol pump too.
“On the other hand, consumers are not to blame if, for other interests, the state has delayed investing in RES. Nor for the fact that the government, for inexplicable reasons, has accepted the entanglement with the photovoltaic companies and agreed to pay them, in an unacceptable way, the kilowatt-hour three and four times more than it should. It has not even rushed to tax their sky-high profits and return the money to those who own them, who are the hapless consumers,” it lamented.
Most recently, the Cabinet approved a proposal by the energy minister to extend the country’s subsidy scheme for net metering and energy-efficiency measures, adding €40 million of funding to the programme.
Total Cypriot state funding to support the self-generation of electricity and energy-efficiency measures in households now stands at €70 million for the 2022-23 period.
The cabinet has also approved a proposal to broaden the definition of “vulnerable citizens” who can apply for such subsidies. Energy Minister Natasa Pilides said this means that another 30,000 vulnerable households will be able to apply for state funding, bringing the total number of vulnerable households that can request assistance to 80,000.
Under the government’s programme, Cypriot households will be able to apply for funds to help them to install PV systems that operate through the net-metering program and the virtual net-metering scheme. Households that apply for PV net metering only will receive €375/kW, but for vulnerable households this increases to €1,000/kW. However, the maximum subsidy is capped at €1,500/kW and €5,000/kW for non-vulnerable and vulnerable households, respectively.
The ministry of energy said Cyprus has also introduced or plans to introduce €160 million of additional programmes for self-generated electricity and energy-efficiency measures in households, businesses, and municipal buildings by the end of this year.
Earlier this year, the country launched a new €1.5mn scheme to support installations of PV and battery systems, specifically targeting the owners of electric and hybrid vehicles.
Meanwhile, in light of the start of the new school year and rising accommodation costs for students, the association also suggested that the government prepare measures to help students and their parents with the costs involved.