The French government has given in to widespread protests against a planned fuel tax that would raise further the cost of living in the country and announced a suspension of the increase, Reuters reports.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe declared that the higher fuel taxes will be suspended for six months. What’s more, members of the ruling party said the government was also considering an increase in the minimum wage starting in January next year.
More than 280,000 people took to the roads and streets in France over two weeks ago to protest higher prices at the pump caused by a higher taxes on fuels that are part of Emmanuel Macron’s government’s plan to fight the effects of climate change.
The so-called “yellow vests” blockaded 11 fuel depots, causing shortages at retail stations, with 75 shutting down for lack of product to sell. In Brittany, local government officials discussed fuel rations to avoid a shortage.
Three people have died, more than 100 have been injured, and some 400 have been arrested since the start of the protests. However, the government has maintained its position, with President Emmanuel Macron last week stating, “What I've taken from these last few days is that we shouldn't change course because it is the right one and necessary. We need to change how we work because a number of our citizens feel this policy course is imposed on them from above."
Now, however, if Reuters’ source is accurate, Macron will have to face the first time he needs to go back on a decision. His popularity has suffered, too: the protest, as protests tend to do, has expanded from taxes and the high cost of life into a protest against government policies in general, with the protesters seeing them as favoring the richest segments of French society.
The French economy has already suffered losses of several million euros, Reuters notes.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.