A growing number of citizens groups have pressed for a reinstatement of electricity subsidies in the midst of the ongoing heatwave but the official line, that state finances permit only narrowly targeted relief measures, is being upheld.
Senior citizens on Tuesday added their voice to calls for the subsidies to be reinstated, backed by Disy.
In its press release the Senior Citizens of Cyprus association said and they hoped the state would “realise its big mistake” of halting subsidies.
“The government should realise the need for the continuous use of air conditioners, especially by vulnerable persons and the elderly, who are most affected by high temperatures and the risk of heatstroke,” the statement said.
“We ask the government to reinstate the electricity subsidy scheme.”
Meanwhile, the health services announced that six elderly people over seventy-five are currently in hospital for heatstroke bringing the total number of recorded cases up to seven, with one 90-year-old man having died on Sunday.
Speaking on CyBC’s morning programme, deputy welfare minister Marilena Evangelou said she had received many petitions from groups asking to be included in electricity subsidies and urging a review of the current provisions, which she had already forwarded to the relevant ministries.
“There are groups which don’t currently fall into the category of vulnerable citizens and I am forwarding their claims,” Evangelou said.
Evangelou went on to clarify that what was on the table was the expansion of the special ‘08’ electricity authority (EAC) category, sponsored by consumer contribution, not the reinstatement of relief measures from the state budget.
EAC spokeswoman Christina Papadopoulou, speaking on the same programme, confirmed that the category – which currently includes eight groups eligible for a twenty per cent reduction on bills- was likely to be enlarged, with the inclusion of another 13 groups, bringing the total number of eligible groups up to 21.
“A capping system may be examined for a maximum number of units of electricity to which the reduced rate is applied,” Papadopoulou said.
“The cost will be borne by consumers through the public benefits tariff included on EAC bills. The tariff gets periodically readjusted based on the real numbers of vulnerable citizens,” the spokeswoman explained.
She detailed that, since the end of June, the tariff came to 0.058 cents/kW, which for an 800kW residential bill, works out to 30 cents.
“The goal is to help as many people as possible. The barely noticeable raise on [average] bills is big help for those who are vulnerable,” Papadopoulou remarked.
Earlier, Minister of Energy George Papanastasiou reiterated to CyBC that the state policy of horizontal relief had shifted to one of only supporting strictly targeted measures.