macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid yellow vest protests
Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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Arab Today, arab today
Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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Macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid Yellow Vest protests

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Arab Today, arab today Macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid Yellow Vest protests

President Emmanuel Macron
Paris - DPA

President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday promised a 100-euro (114-dollar) monthly rise in France's minimum wage among a series of measures aimed at placating the Yellow Vest protest movement.

In his first public comments in nine days, Macron also promised tax concessions to workers taking on overtime and pensioners, but rejected calls to reintroduce a partly-scrapped wealth tax.

The French left and far-right dismissed Macron's proposals, which came after a second Saturday running saw Paris police clash with protesters. They argued that he wasn't really changing course. 

Reactions from the protesters, who have mounted roadblocks around France since mid-November wearing the fluorescent yellow safety tops that have become their symbol, were not as clear.

The movement has no leaders and no formal organization.

But most Yellow Vests who spoke to French media in the aftermath of Macron's speech seemed inclined to continue their actions. 

"It's not enough," one protester in southern France, identified only as Jean-Paul, told broadcaster BFMTV. "It's only a small gesture."

Macron, sporting stubble, made a 13-minute televised address from the Elysee Palace, introduced by the national anthem.

"The events of the last few weeks... have deeply troubled the nation," he said. "No anger can justify attacking a policeman or a gendarme, vandalizing a shop or a government building."

The president acknowledged that many protesters have not been swayed by the government's decision last week to scrap the petrol and diesel tax hikes that initially sparked the movement.

Their anger "is much deeper," he said. "I consider it justified in many ways, and that may be our opportunity."

Opinion polls have shown widespread public support for the Yellow Vests, while Macron's own ratings have sunk to new lows.

The 40-year-old centrist president, elected last year in a landslide victory over far-right leader Marine Le Pen, admitted his government had "moved too slowly" on ensuring people could live in dignity from the proceeds of their work.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe would bring legislation before parliament on Tuesday to enshrine the new commitments into law, he said.

Macron said employers should also make an effort, calling on those who could afford it to pay workers an end-of-year bonus that would be exempt from tax and social charges.

The increase in the minimum wage would not cost employers anything, he promised.

An Elysee source later clarified to dpa that it would mainly involve a quicker implementation of rises in state payments to low-paid workers, originally slated to take effect over several years.

Macron also announced that pensioners with incomes of less than 2,000 euros will be exempted from a controversial tax rise. A plan to exempt overtime payments from social charges will be broadened to exempt them from income tax too.

The measures overall would probably cost between 8 and 10 billion euros, junior budget minister Olivier Dussopt told BFMTV.

Macron, who has cast himself as a leader of pro-EU progressive forces in the face of the populist far-right, said many other countries were facing similar discontent "but I believe that we can, all together, find a way out."

"I want that for France because it is our calling, down through history, to find paths never before explored for ourselves and for the world," he said.

But while announcing his concessions, Macron was anxious to avoid giving the impression that he was engaged in an about-turn.

He rejected calls to reverse the abolition of France's wealth tax on property other than real estate, which left-wing opponents used to brand him as the "president of the rich."

"To turn back would weaken us just when we are creating jobs in every sector," he argued.

At the same time, he said, new measures would be taken to ensure that big companies and their directors paid tax in France.

"You see, we are responding to the economic and social emergency with strong measures, with quicker tax cuts, with a better control of expenditure, rather than by retreating," he argued.

Radical leftist leader Jean-Luc Melenchon quickly dismissed Macron's announcement, saying the president "thought that handing out some change would calm the citizen uprising has broken out."

Melenchon predicted a "big mobilization" for a fifth weekend of protests next Saturday.

Le Pen was equally dismissive, saying that Macron had "renounced some of his fiscal errors, so much the better, but refuses to admit that it's the model he champions which is contested."

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macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid yellow vest protests macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid yellow vest protests

 



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macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid yellow vest protests macron promises wage rises and tax cuts amid yellow vest protests

 



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