France counts costs of protests, new measures at US$11 billion

April FrancisDec 14, 2018

"We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns", Mr Macron said. Riot police fired tear gas and water cannon at "Yellow Vests" protesters marching in Paris on Saturday in the fourth week-end action despite President Emmanuel Macron's series of concessions.

Government coffers will be tapped into next year to finance tax relief and other fiscal measures announced Monday by President Emmanuel Macron to placate the "yellow vest" movement, which started as a show of anger against fuel taxes but snowballed into a grab-bag of grievances.

"No anger justifies attacking a policeman (.) When violence breaks out, freedom ceases to be", he said.

Macron's move to raise wages appeared to go against advice from Labor Minister Muriel Penicaud, who on Sunday told the Associated Press, "there will be no boost for the Smic (minimum wage)", because "it destroys jobs".

Trump had said that the demonstrators in Paris were chanting "We love Trump", to which Le Drian replied: "As far as I know, none of the demonstrators was speaking in English". "I might have hurt people with my words", Macron said in a nationwide broadcast speech Monday night.

Mr Macron, who until kept a low profile during the protests, admitted that many people were unhappy with living conditions and felt they "had not been listened to".

French President Emmanuel Macron has acknowledged he's partially responsible for the anger that has fueled weeks of protests in France, an unusual admission for the leader elected a year ago.

"I take my share of responsibility for the anger gripping France", Macron said, an unusual admission for a president accused of being out-of-touch.

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Coordinated "yellow vest" protests were taking place across the country on Saturday, including on numerous motorways, causing havoc on the national road network.

Last week, the French retail federation told Reuters that retailers had lost about €1bn since the protests broke out on 17 November. That includes around 6 billion euros for Macron's new measures announced Monday and the estimated loss of 3.9 billion euros that the government will no longer levy from its now abandoned carbon tax hike on fossil fuels.

Macron declared an "economic and social state of emergency", ordering the government and parliament to take immediate steps to change tax rules and other policies that hit the wallets of working class French people. (AAP) Authorities say 136,000 people took part in protests across France on Saturday, including 10,000 in Paris. Business groups have said the country could lose a total of more than $11 million.

Although he admitted he is partly to blame for the protests, the president condemned the violence seen at yellow vest demonstrations.

"It's something we've been hearing for a month.There is something broken between the President of the Republic and a segment of voters", said Bruno Jeudy, a political analyst.

Fallout from the protests so far could cost France 0.1 percent of gross domestic product in the last quarter of the year, Le Maire warned.

The announcement follows weeks of protests which first began in rural areas but have spread across the country, with Parisian officials calling for a lockdown over the weekend after more than 100,000 protesters poured into the city's streets.

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