Price hikes and profiteering – Article by Eleni Mavrou, AKEL Political Bureau member
Sunday, 17 October 2021, HARAVGI newspaper
Increases in the price of bread, pasta, milk and dairy products. Possible increases in poultry too… Essential foodstuffs are all, along with fuel, the victims of price hikes and profiteering.
The General Consumer Price Index rose in the first nine months of 2021 compared to the same period last year by 5%. Normally the increases ranged from 1% to 1.5%. Regarding pasta and flour, the increase in the price for the consumer has risen to 15-20% compared to the previous month. The price of animal feed has gone up by 40% in comparison to last year. And the winter period is predicted to be even more difficult…
During the global economic crisis of the last decade, the financial system played a criminal game, driving entire countries, businesses and households into bankruptcy. We are on the verge of a repetition of this phenomenon. The pandemic has widened the zones of poverty and provided the opportunity for new profiteering attacks to be launched.
In a recent “YouGov” global survey carried out of 18,983 people in 17 countries around the world, 40% of them said that their cost of living had soared sharply since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic.
So the President of the Republic is correct when he says that “the problem is global” – but he is telling us only half of the truth. EUROSTAT figures released have revealed that for months now, the Consumer Price Index in Cyprus has been rising at a higher rate than the average across the Eurozone.
The President of the Republic still hasn’t announced what his government intends to do to address the problem, here and now. And of course he hasn’t said a single word about all what his government did that made the situation worse.
The ideological obsessions of the ruling DISY party and the serving of specific powerful interests led to the closure of the semi-governmental Cyprus Grain Commission which played a positive role in keeping prices down in Cyprus’ relatively small market. Not only that, the government ruling forces “forgot” that, according to the legislation in place, they had the obligation to maintain strategic reserves-stocks and are now carrying out – so says the Minister of Agriculture – “an administrative inquiry” into the matter.
They are demonising any proposal seeking to impose a cap on the prices of essential goods because they suggest “the free market regulates these things”!! We have seen how the supposed “free market” works…Everyone, except the Competition Protection Committee, is aware of the numerous cartels that are being set up to manipulate prices.
For the time being, the government ruling forces have merely announced the partial covering of part of the loss of income of the four production sectors – not to contain the increase observed in the cost of basic goods, but to pass it on… gradually.
The European Commission itself was forced just a few days ago to recommend to member states that they support economically vulnerable households so that they can cope with the effects of the significant increases in energy prices. Indeed, estimating that energy prices will remain high over the next six months, it is calling on member states to focus on measures such as reducing fuel and energy taxes.
Several European countries are already taking concrete measures. In Cyprus, the government ruling forces are looking for new “easy money” through ”strategies to attract businesses”. But you don’t tackle price hikes and profiteering with wishful thinking. Only by taking targeted measures immediately will it be possible to protect the already meagre revenues of small and medium-sized businesses, particularly those of small and medium-sized enterprises, and vulnerable households, which are struggling to survive on a daily basis.