French PM Edouard Philippe Suspends Fuel Tax Rise

PARIS: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe says the tax increases have been suspended for six months.The new tax would have seen petrol prices rise by four cents per litre from January.

Many are criticising the president for pursuing policies they claim favour the richest members of French society.The movement has grown via social media and has supporters across the political spectrum.

The protests, which started on 17 November, were focused on denouncing a squeeze on household spending brought about by Macron’s taxes on diesel, which he says are necessary to combat climate change.

Four people have been killed in the three-week-long protests, including an 80-year-old woman who died in hospital on Sunday after being hit by a tear gas canister in Marseille.

The protests have hit major French cities, causing considerable damage for the past three weekends.Police in Paris said 412 people were arrested during the clashes in the capital on Saturday. More than 100 were injured.

The demonstrations have been given the “yellow vest” tag due to the fluorescent jackets kept in all vehicles in France, and are estimated to have cost millions to the economy.

World oil prices did rise before falling back again, but the Macron government raised its hydrocarbon tax this year by 7.6 euro cents per litre on diesel and 3.9 cents on petrol.

President Macron has not spoken publicly about Saturday’s violence in Paris since his return from a G20 summit in Argentina at the weekend.Macron has said the taxes are needed to combat climate change.

President Macron was elected two years ago with an overwhelming mandate for sweeping reform, but his popularity has fallen sharply in recent months.