French government suspends fuel tax

4 Dec 18

The French government has announced a six-month suspension of the fuel tax that caused weeks of violent protests across the country.

Prime minister Edouard Philippe said in a televised address today, after a closed-door meeting with MPs, the tax hike would be pushed back six months.

He said: “No tax is worth threatening the unity of the nation.”

The six-month suspension would be applied to fuel tax increases as well as hikes in electricity and gas prices, he said.

Philippe added the violence must stop.

“The main role of the state is to guarantee public order, but we must fight against anything that endangers the unity of the nation,” he said.

The tax hikes were set to kick in on 1 January next year. It is expected tax on diesel will increase by 6.5 cents per litre and tax on petrol will increase by 2.9 cents. 

This comes after weeks of protests by the gilets jaunes – or ‘yellow vests’ – in major French cities, which have caused considerable damage. The riots initially started out as protests against the fuel hikes but have since also become about rising prices in France and growing dissatisfaction with president Emmanuel Macron.

According to French police, three people have died since the unrest started about two weeks ago and hundreds of people have been arrested.

The French were already unhappy with the cost of diesel, the most commonly used fuel in French cars, having risen by about 23% in the last year - the highest price for diesel in France since the early 2000s.

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