France cancels fuel tax hikes amid protests

‘Government showing it is ready for dialogue because tax increase has been dropped from 2019 budget bill,' says PM

France cancels fuel tax hikes amid protests

France has abandoned an increase in fuel taxes following weeks of violent demonstrations.

“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 said Wednesday in a speech at the National Assembly, or lower house of parliament.

The move follows an announcement by Philippe the previous day that tax hikes would be delayed for six months and that the suspension would also apply to increases in gas and electricity prices.

Thousands of protesters wearing yellow vests have been gathering in major French cities, including Paris, since Nov. 17 to protest President Emmanuel Macron's controversial fuel tax hikes and the deteriorating economic situation in France.

The demonstrators, who generally live in rural areas due to high rents in the cities, called on Macron to cut fuel taxes and make economic arrangements to ease their lives.

On Saturday, French police cracked down on protesters around the famous Champs-Elysees in Paris with tear gas and water cannons.

Demonstrators set a large number of vehicles and trash cans ablaze and pelted police with stones and bottles.

At least three people have died during the riots while 1,043 others have been injured, including 222 members of the security forces. As many as 1,424 people have been arrested.

According to a recent survey, 84 percent of the French people -- mostly from the middle-income group -- support the protests.

Fuel prices in France have risen more than 20 percent this year.

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