Consumers in Cyprus are in a dire situation as ongoing increases in the prices of essential goods, energy costs, and high interest rates have further eroded their standard of living, Peo union said on Friday, marked internationally as World Consumer Rights Day.

The organisation called on the government to impose taxes on windfall profits to be able to implement a comprehensive social policy.

Peo said “energy costs have crippled consumers and households, a fact confirmed by EU data, as Cyprus is the second country out of 26 in the European Union in energy poverty.”

Furthermore, the cost of borrowing continues to rise, especially in housing loans, despite the stabilisation imposed by the European Central Bank. This upward trend in borrowing exerts enormous financial pressure on society, Peo said.

“The skyrocketing rents, coupled with the great difficulties in lending, the enormous increases in the real estate sector, and the absence of social housing plans, make it increasingly difficult, if not impossible, for low and middle-income groups, and especially young couples, to acquire economically accessible and decent housing.

Peo called on the government to “demonstrate the necessary political will” and proceed with the taxation of windfall profits. In this way, the state will have the necessary revenue to implement a comprehensive social policy including the extension of existing measures and new compensatory measures to support low-income groups and vulnerable households.

To address these issues, Peo reiterated its proposals regarding the full restoration of Cola (Cost of Living Allowance) and its extension to all employees as a mechanism for substantial restoration of wage purchasing power.

Among Peo’s proposals are also the inclusion of low-income pensioners in the beneficiaries of the electricity tariff reduction, the reduction of fuel prices either through price subsidies or through tax reduction, and the introduction of an economic support scheme for low-middle income households to purchase electric cars.