Published: Thu, December 06, 2018
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

France delays fuel tax hikes that prompted protests to 2020

France delays fuel tax hikes that prompted protests to 2020

The "yellow vest" protests have blocked highways and fuel depots around the country, causing headaches for businesses and fuel shortages in some regions.

Many are also anxious after Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume said Wednesday that measures aimed at improving their negotiating power with distributors would be delayed as the government grapples with the "yellow vest" movement.

The unrest over the squeeze on household budgets comes as OECD data showed France had become the most highly taxed country in the developed world, surpassing even traditionally high-tax-paying Scandinavian nations.

Mr Griveaux told a weekly news conference Mr Macron had called on all political parties, trade unions and business leaders to press the need for calm.

His attitude - "I stick to my guns" -aggravated the stand-off as Parisians walked and hitchhiked to work, travel plans were wrecked and public anger intensified - peacefully.

The government has changed aspects of the wealth tax - known in France as the ISF - by narrowing it down to lucrative property deals and real estate assets.

Farmers, road hauliers and students joined an escalating revolt against President Macron today as he warned that some protesters were seeking to overthrow the French state.

Those changes earned Mr Macron the label "president of the rich" among the hard-pressed middle-class voters and blue-collar workers who criticise him for pursuing policies that favour the wealthy and do nothing to help the poor.

Protesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend
THIBAULT CAMUS APProtesters angry about rising taxes clashed with French police for a third straight weekend

"This decision should have been taken from the start, as soon as the conflict emerged", said prominent Socialist figure Segolene Royal, a former candidate for president, adding: "The more you let a conflict fester, the more you eventually have to concede".

"This money was to be invested in our SMEs for them to develop, innovate and hire".

The massive protests began in opposition to that tax hike but spread into a more populist movement over the weeks among the working class citizens who would be most affected by the price increase. "If at the end of these discussions no good solutions have been found, we will accept the consequences" Mr Griveaux said.

The demonstrations, which began on November 17, sparked on Saturday Paris' worst rioting in decades, with protesters clashing with police, setting fire to vehicles and looting shops around the capital's famed Champs Elysees avenue.

The price increases for the utilities will be suspended for six months, said Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, but leaders of the demonstrations in which hundreds of thousands have donned yellow safety vests were dismissive of the gesture.

US President Donald Trump appeared to mock Mr Macron over the policy shift, which could make it harder for France to meet its Carbon dioxide emissions-reduction target, a core element of the Paris climate agreement of 2015. She urged protesters to seize on the French government's weakness to push other demands such as a rise in the minimum wage.

Adding to Macron's difficulties, college students are agitating and the hardline CGT trade union on Wednesday called for strikes in the energy industry and at ports on December 13.

"Trump also retweeted a false claim from American conservative student activist Charlie Kirk that said: "'We want Trump' being chanted through the streets of Paris".

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