French PM calls for quick tax cuts to appease protesters


PARIS (AP) — France’s prime minister has called for quick tax cuts to respond to the anger expressed through yellow vest protests across the country.

Edouard Philippe on Monday unveiled the results of a three-month “big debate” launched by President Emmanuel Macron in response to the demonstrations, giving ordinary people the chance to express their views on France’s economy and democracy.

Philippe says “the debate clearly indicates the direction: we must cut taxes and cut them more quickly.” At the same time, however, he said the government will have to cut public spending.

Philippe listed as other major topics the demand for more public services, new democratic ways to influence political decisions and fighting climate change without raising taxes to do it.

He called for “radical” changes but didn’t provide details.

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Macron is expected to unveil a series of economic measures next week.

The yellow vest movement, prompted by a fuel tax hike in November, has expanded into a broader revolt against Macron’s policies, which protesters see as favoring the rich and big businesses.

The French government said 1.5 million people have participated in the debate through posts on a website, local meetings and conferences, messages in grievance books placed in town halls and in letters.

Most yellow vests leaders have called on the movement’s supporters not to take part in the debate, saying they did not believe in the government’s offer to listen to the French.

Philippe’s suggestions on Monday don’t include two of the yellow vests’ persistent demands: the reintroduction of a wealth tax on the country’s richest people and the implementation of popular votes allowing citizens to propose new laws.

Macron has already made concessions that failed to extinguish the anger of the yellow vest movement.

He abandoned the fuel tax hike, scrapped a tax increase for retirees and introduced a 100-euro ($113) monthly bonus to increase the minimum wage, a package estimated at 10 billion euros ($11.5 billion).

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