Cyprus tackles rising fuel and commodity prices with new measures

NICOSIA, May 20 (Xinhua) -- Cyprus will introduce a series of measures to counter the spike in fuel and commodity prices caused by the crisis in Ukraine, a Cypriot government spokesman announced on Friday.

Speaking after a meeting of the country's ministers of Finance, Transport, Labor, Energy, Agriculture and Social Welfare, and President Nicos Anastasiades, spokesman Marios Pelekanos said "the measures will include the extension of reduced taxation on fuel and electricity already in force."

"The package of measures to be introduced was discussed extensively at today's meeting and will further be examined at the Ministry of Finance. It will take some time to work out in detail before the package is introduced at a meeting of the full cabinet on Friday next week for approval," Pelekanos added.

Trade Unions and political parties demanded government action to address the situation after inflation went up by 8.8 percent between April and March.

The Statistical Service said that the rise in inflation was caused by a 39 percent increase in electricity prices and a 32 percent increase in fuel prices. Meanwhile, the prices of agricultural products have also shot up by 32 percent, agricultural products by 18.3 percent, and transport by 18 percent. Housing and water costs have also risen.

Pelekanos told journalists on Friday that the new package will include both measures aimed at benefiting the entire population, and specifically targeted measures for more vulnerable segments.

Some of the measures may require approval from the European Commission as they amount to subsidizing, which is not allowed by the EU.

Pelekanos said the authorities will also apply new strict controls on the prices of fuel at pump stations, to avoid profiteering.

Consumers' associations have been complaining that fuel prices go up immediately after an increase in the price of oil, but fail to drop down when oil becomes cheaper.

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