The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Keve) said on Tuesday it agrees with plans to use offshore gas reserves for power generation as soon as possible to drive down electricity costs, currently hurting businesses and individuals alike.

“We are fully aligned with the government,” Keve head Christodoulos Angastiniotis said.

He was speaking to reporters after a meeting at the palace with President Nikos Christodoulides, with the finance minister also attending.

Keve and the president discussed high electricity prices as well as other issues – such as ways of boosting trade with the north via the Green Line Regulation.

Asked about the issue of natural gas, Angastiniotis said the government has the right idea in prioritising use of part of the offshore reserves for electricity generation.

“The [gas] reserves we have are much more than what Cyprus needs [in electricity], meaning we would not disappoint our partners, Israel and Egypt,” he said.

Just 20 to 22 per cent of the discovered gas would be enough to power the island’s stations, he added.

“First we’ll bring ashore the natural gas for electricity generation and later, or simultaneously, the processes will get underway so that we can commercialise the gas.

“Electricity costs for households and to businesses are too unbearable.”

Angastiniotis was alluding to government plans to bring gas from Israeli fields via a pipeline, possibly with a tie-in to the Aphrodite reserve in Cypriot waters.

At the same time, Nicosia and Tel Aviv are in talks for having a facility on the island that would liquefy most of the imported Israeli gas and then export it on tankers to European markets. The energy minister heads out to Israel in mid-June to clinch a government-to-government deal.

Expensive energy – largely driving inflation – is adversely affecting households and businesses. The government is currently subsidising electricity bills.

Meanwhile just-released data suggest that people are having to tap their bank savings to make ends meet.

According to the Central Bank, total deposits in April registered a net decline of €173.3 million – compared to a net rise of €59.8 million in March.

Deposits of Cypriot nationals dropped by €118.2 million, of non-EU nationals by €45.2 million, and of non-Cypriot EU nationals by €9.8 million.

The annual rate of change in deposits came to 1.9 per cent in April, compared to 2.6 per cent in March.

Total deposits in the banking system in April amounted to €51.6 billion.