France cancels fuel tax hike over protests

Paris: The Emmanuel Macron-led French government has decided to scrap the hike in fuel taxes amid fears of an outbreak of fresh protests in the country.

Violent protests, which have been held across France for three weeks, have resulted in the death of four people and presented a great challenge to President Macron’s plans to raise taxes, reported Al Jazeera.

“The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told legislators on Wednesday.

While protestors have welcomed the move to drop the tax hike, some said it will not be enough to curb the public outrage.

The protests, which began on November 17, went on to become one of France’s worst rioting in decades, as, on Saturday, protestors clashed with the police, looted shops and set fire to vehicles around Paris’ Champs Elysees avenue.

Paris police said that the protests on Saturday led to as many as 412 people being arrested, with 363 still remaining in custody.

Macron, who has said that the hike was necessary to tackle the threat of climate change, has drawn huge criticisms from the protestors, who believe that the President has been enacting policies in favour of the country’s richest section of society.

Macron and Philippe’s approval ratings have plummeted in recent weeks.

In a poll conducted last week, Macron’s ratings fell to 23 per cent, while Philippe’s rating has gone down by 10 points to 26 per cent.