The government is mulling extending the scheme for subsidising electricity bills, but has yet to firm up a decision, an official told MPs on Monday.
Melina Katsounotou, head of the finance ministry’s directorate of budget and fiscal control, was in parliament informing lawmakers of the government’s €361 million supplementary budget. She said that as it stands, the budget doesn’t allocate funds for the electricity subsidy scheme.
Should the government decide to extend the scheme – expiring at the end of the month – it will seek additional credits.
The €361 million bill represents the second supplementary budget for fiscal year 2023.
The greatest increases in spending relate to €60 million more budgeted for the Cost of Living Allowance, after the transitional agreement between trade unions and employers brokered by the government; €60 million for implementing co-financed projects and grants schemes; €59 million for the purchase of desalinated water, the price of which has gone up due to rising energy prices; and a €72 million state grant covering the University of Cyprus and the University of Technology (Tepak).
Other items include €25.4 million for the purchase of the ‘Metropolitan’ building to house the ministry of labour, €15.6 million to host displaced Ukrainian nationals and international protection applicants, and €15 million for buying medicines and vaccines for Covid-19.
Opposition legislators again voiced concern over excessive government spending as articulated by the Fiscal Council.
Disy MP Harris Georgiades and Akel’s Andreas Kafkalias cited a letter sent by the Fiscal Council noting the lack of information about expenditures and the potential risk to public finances.
“It is with particular worry that we watch the first samples of how the new government is managing public finances,” commented Georgiades.
This also contradicted the election-campaign commitments of President (then candidate) Nikos Christodoulides, who pledged fiscal discipline under his administration.
The impact of the government’s ‘reckless’ spending would be felt in the coming months, Georgiades added.