France mulls wealth tax changes as protests intensify
06 December, 2018, 02:53 | Author: Eric Barnett
The French government plans to announce Tuesday the suspension of fuel tax increases slated for January in a bid to quell the fierce protests which have ballooned into the deepest crisis of Emmanuel Macron's presidency, sources said.
Macron is a 40-year-old former investment banker and economy minister.
Just a day after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced the rises would be suspended for six months from their original introduction date in January, the environment minister confirmed that they had been cancelled completely.
The government U-turn appeared to appease few of the protesters, who wear the yellow vests that France requires motorists to have in their vehicles in case of roadside emergencies.
"No tax merits putting the unity of the nation in danger", he said. Pressure has been mounting after the grassroots "yellow vest" movement degenerated into fiery street clashes and vandalism in Paris over the weekend, leading to scores of injuries and arrests.
Across France, four people have been killed in accidents linked to the demonstrations and road blockades, and hundreds injured.
Chalencon said in an interview Wednesday with The Associated Press that the grassroots movement, triggered by fuel tax hikes, has grown amid Macron's silence.
Griveaux defended Macron's decision a year ago to narrow the wealth tax - known in France as "ISF" - to a tax on real estate assets, rather than all of an individual's worldwide assets, from jewelry to yachts to investments, over the value of 1.3 million euros ($1.5 million).
Two groups blockading petrol depots in Brittany said they would stand down following the announcement of the measures, which will cost public coffers some two billion euros ($2.3 billion).
Griveaux said the wealth tax reform had not been "a gift to the rich" and was aimed at encouraging wealthy individuals to invest more in France.
"We too want a freeze on the planned closures of coal plants", the CGT union said in a statement. Macron's move was "on the right path but, in my opinion, it will not fundamentally change the movement", she said.
"The Paris Agreement is fatally flawed because it raises the price of energy for responsible countries while whitewashing some of the worst polluters ... in the world". More protests are planned for Saturday in Paris.
"The Yellow Vests wish an act IV next Saturday".
Mr Macron has been accused of "not listening" and being out of touch with the public.
Macron, for his part, visited a regional government headquarters that was torched by protesters, but he did not speak to reporters.
The "yellow vests" are largely made up of modest earners from rural and small-town France, and many want the tax cut for the richest repealed.
French President Emmanuel Macron has scrapped a fuel tax rise amid fears of new violence, after weeks of nationwide protests and the worst rioting in Paris in decades.
Immediately after coming to power in 2017, Macron pushed through tax cuts for entrepreneurs and high-earners - an "original sin" for his critics. Student protests blocked or otherwise disrupted about 100 high schools around the country blocked or otherwise disrupted by student protests Tuesday, according to the French Education Ministry.
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