The French President Emmanuel Macron’s government is dropping further fuel-tax hikes in next year’s budget in the face of protests across France over living costs, his prime minister said late on Wednesday, a day after announcing their suspension for six months.
“The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told the lower house of parliament.
It marked the first major U-turn by Macron in his 18-months in office, at a time polls show that barely one in five French people think he is doing a good job.
The Macron administration is struggling to defuse the anger driving the “yellow vest” protests, as it reels from the worst riots seen in central Paris in five decades last Saturday.
Government spokesman Benjamin Grivet said all tax-related policies needed to be periodically evaluated and, if deemed not to be working, should be changed. He said the wealth tax could be reassessed in the autumn of 2019.
Griveaux later told a weekly news conference that Macron had called on all political parties, trade unions and business leaders to press the need for calm.