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By Peter Stevenson MEMBERS of Volunteer Doctors Cyprus have treated around 350 people at their free clinic in Nicosia since it opened three months ago, while two more, one in Paphos and one in Polis are due to open today. Limassol also has a free clinic, which was opened only last month, and plans have been drawn ...
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SOME 10 days ago, foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides raised expectations by announcing the possibility of a deal with Turkey for the opening of the fenced off area of Famagusta, for the return of its inhabitants. In exchange the Cyprus government would agree to the opening of Tymbou airport to direct flights. ...
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Cyprus Internet Directory [ Ducking the problem on fuel prices ]

Ducking the problem on fuel prices

AS FUEL prices have risen over the past few weeks, the government has been promising all and sundry in an effort to pacify angry consumers.

It has offered to return the extra VAT raised on diesel through targeted handouts, it has suggested it may cut or even scrap road tax, it has cast the spotlight on the pricing practices of petrol companies, while the competition commission has begun investigations into possible price fixing.

Yet all of this is missing the point. Price probes suggest colluding oil companies are responsible for our woes, distracting us from the basic issues. What’s more, the government would do well to reflect on what it wishes for: a price free-for-all would certainly reduce prices at busy city gas stations where the market is sufficiently saturated for proper competition to take place, but it would send them soaring for remote rural communities whose isolation makes them desperately dependent on fuel – hardly the kind of social groups a communist government would want to plunge deeper into poverty.

What’s more by offering to return to motorists the extra money they are spending on fuel, the government is simply sticking its head in the sand in the face of a glaring reality. Fuel prices are rising for a reason: they are rising because dwindling supply simply cannot match rising demand. So what the government should be telling us is not: “fuel prices are rising, it’s unfair, have some cash so you can carry on as before without feeling the pinch”; instead, they should be saying: “oil is a finite commodity, prices will keep rising, prepare for it, adapt your lifestyle, learn to use less.” Indeed, given the alarming rise in global warming, rising fuel prices are perhaps a blessing, forcing us to seek out alternative energy supplies with a far greater urgency than we have until now.

So instead of giving us back the money to allow us to continue driving as before, the government should be setting aside all the money it raises in fuel duties to invest in alterative solutions. Because let’s face it, the public at present has very little alternative to its polluting habits. So instead of wringing its hands, the government should be working against the clock to construct alternative energy facilities that can wean from increasingly expensive oil-dependent electricity generation. Instead of paying to keep us on the roads, it should be investing massively in public transport infrastructure, both within our cities and between them.

Our disgraceful failure to plan ahead for water has saddled us with a huge emergency bill to keep a trickle of water running in our taps. This time next year, the cost of a tank of petrol may have doubled, making driving a barely affordable luxury. Will the government again wait until we have gone beyond the brink before scrambling for a solution?

(Source: Cyprus Mail)

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