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  • French government bows to protesters, suspends fuel tax rise for next six months.

    French government bows to protesters, suspends fuel tax rise for next six months. | Photo: Reuters

Published 4 December 2018
Opinion

After weeks of relentless social protest against the government's fuel tax increase, France's prime minister announced a six-month suspension of the tax.

The French government announced the suspension of the 1% fuel tax hike as protests snowballed into a cluster of complaints related to the negative social impact of government policy. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe Tuesday suspended planned fuel tax increases for at least six months in response to weeks of protests, the first major policy reversal by President Emmanuel Macron’s administration after 18 months in office.

Philippe said someone would have “to be deaf or blind” not to see or hear the roiling anger on the streets over a policy that Macron has defended as critical to combating climate change.

“The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop and paying work. That’s also what we want. If I didn’t manage to explain it if the ruling majority didn’t manage to convince the French, then something must change,” said Philippe.

“No tax is worth jeopardizing the unity of the nation.”

Throughout the suspension, the administration will discuss other measures to help the working class and squeezed middle-class who rely on vehicles for work. He warned citizens, however, that they could not expect better public services and lower taxes.

The “yellow vest” movement, which started on Nov. 17 as a social-media protest group named for the high-visibility jackets all motorists in France must carry in their cars, began with the aim of highlighting the squeeze on household spending brought about by Macron’s fuel taxes.

However, over the past three weeks, the movement has metamorphosized into an anti-Macron uprising, with many criticizing the president for pursuing policies they say favor the rich and do nothing to help the poor.

 

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