President Nikos Christodoulides on Sunday defended the decision to lift the subsidy on fuel prices after receiving much criticism from both opposition parties and members of the public.

The additional 8.3 cents per litre came into effect across the island on Saturday morning.

Christodoulides said since the temporary measure freezing VAT on fuel was introduced in Jully 2022 “the facts have changed”.

Responding to a journalist, he said “you understand that the government will have to make decisions on the basis of some data and these data regarding finances cannot be changed”.

The freeze on electricity prices was also lifted while the finance minister said vulnerable groups will still receive some benefit.

“I fully understand the dissatisfaction that exists, it is very logical that there is this dissatisfaction, and all this will be evaluated again. You will understand that the facts before us are very specific. At the same time, the government has taken specific decisions, whether it concerns VAT or other decisions, because this is our first concern, how to meet citizens’ expectations, especially at this difficult juncture. All this will be evaluated.

“Things have changed since these measures were adopted, and we are here to constantly evaluate,” Christodoulides added.

When it was suggested that rising prices send more people to the north to buy petrol, he said “it is clear that for commercial purposes, this is prohibited by the regulation itself. The instructions that have been given are to make very strict controls, so as not to create an issue of unfair competition.”

Ahead of the reduced rate of VAT on fuel being scrapped, the association of petrol station owners carried out a demonstration in Nicosia.

They blocked central roads in the capital with fuel tankers, protesting unfair competition due to illegal fuel imports from the north.

It was agreed that the seizure of fuel from the north both at the crossing points and across the Republic will be announced and made public immediately to work as a deterrent.