French PM announces 6-month suspension of fuel tax increase to defuse violent social action

Tuesday, 2018-12-04 19:51:01
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The "Yellow Vests" movement started on November 17 as a protest against a rise in fuel tax. (Source: World Pro News)
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French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Tuesday (December 4) a six-month suspension of fuel-tax increases in response to weeks of countrywide blockades and riots that has plunged Paris into chaos and left the French economy in tatters.

In a televised speech, Philippe also unveiled that planned rise in power and gas prices would also be suspended in order to alleviate the burden on squeezed middle-class households.

"This anger, you'd have to be deaf or blind not to see it or hear it," said the Prime Minister, stressing "No tax deserves to jeopardize the unity of the nation."

"The French who have donned yellow vests want taxes to drop, and work to pay. 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," he added.

President Emmanuel Macron's first retreat on a major policy since taking power in 2017, came after protests across French cities, notably in Paris, turned particularly violent over the weekend, with the Arc de Triomphe vandalized and avenues off the capital's Champs-Elysees were damaged.

The "Yellow Vests" movement started on November 17 as a protest against a rise in fuel tax which Macron says is necessary to combat climate change.

It has since turned into a bigger uprising denouncing a squeeze on household spending, high living costs caused by the president's fiscal and economic policy which they say favours the rich.

Xinhua