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Our View: More punishment for the taxpayer due to government failures

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MPs were out beating their breasts on Thursday, in tears for the poor public who are faced with the new carbon tax slated for early next year plus having to pay the cost of almost €300 million in carbon offsets through their electricity bills in 2024.

The shock and horror on our behalf comes across as hollow given that it has been known for at least three years that a carbon fuel tax was coming. It was right there in the Recovery and Resilience Plan available online since 2020 for anyone who could be bothered to read it. The time to act was then, not three years later when there is nothing that can be done in time to avert it.

The MPs shouldn’t worry too much though because according to a survey released by the European Investment Bank earlier in the week seven out of ten Cypriots would be willing to pay more income tax to help lower-income households cope with the costs of green transition.

Survey results showed that most Cypriot respondents (70 per cent, 11 points above the EU average of 59 per cent) would be willing to do this. Fifty-four per cent would agree to pay an extra 1-2 per cent of their income, and 16 per cent would agree to an extra 5-10 per cent. Really?

It would have been helpful to know the ages of the respondents – the survey mentions ‘15 and over’ so some are clearly not taxpayers with families and the younger ones probably suffer from climate anxiety. How many were people who thought they should ‘give the ‘correct’ answer so they wouldn’t look bad? And what was the income status of the remainder?  How many people were surveyed in Cyprus out of the 30,000 across 35 countries?

The survey notes that the rising cost of living was the number one concern for seven out of ten respondents in Cyprus, so the natural reaction to that would obviously be a desire to shell out even more of their hard-earned money to aid the green transition on top of paying for the state’s failures that result in never-ending emissions’ fines plus now a new carbon fuel tax.

Commenting on the coming tax, Environment Commissioner Maria Panayiotou told MPs it would apply to everyone. How does this make any sense? The idea of the tax is ostensibly to ‘nudge’ (coerce) drivers off the roads and onto public transport. This will just result in punishing non-car owners who already use the bus, cycle or walk. It sounds more like a stealth tax than anything else.

MPs also heard that realistically Cyprus won’t be able to meet its ‘green’ targets for 2030, needing to have 80,000 electric cars on the roads by then.

And how are electric cars fuelled in Cyprus? With electricity from fossil fuels because the grid is too old to store the amount of solar energy being generated and nothing has been done to fix that. You could not make this stuff up.

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