France considers lower electricity tax to stabilise household power prices

After the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend, many shops and restaurants in the center of the capital are expected to shut down Saturday, fearing a repeat of the violence. (File/AP/Michel Euler)
Updated 06 December 2018
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France considers lower electricity tax to stabilise household power prices

  • French government said that it would prevent state-controlled utility EDF’s regulated power prices from rising this winter
  • Many shops and restaurants in the center of the capital are expected to shut down on Saturday

PARIS: The French government is considering lowering taxes on electricity in order to stabilise household power bills, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters on Thursday.

The government had said this week that it would prevent state-controlled utility EDF’s regulated power prices from rising this winter, but the firm’s competitors immediately said they would challenge that decision in court. Earlier government attempts at freezing prices have been overruled.

Household power prices are set by independent energy regulator CRE in a complex formula that includes the price of power generation, transport and distribution. A third part of the retail price is made up of taxes.

“What is being discussed is that the share of taxes in the power price could be reduced in order to compensate for an increase in the generation cost, which on balance would keep prices stable,” said one of the two sources.

Meanwhile, Paris police and store owners are bracing themselves for new violence at protests Saturday, despite President Emmanuel Macron’s surrender over a fuel tax hike that unleashed weeks of unrest.
Police, unions, and local authorities are holding emergency meetings Thursday to strategize — while disparate groups of protesters are sharing plans on social networks and chat groups.
After the worst rioting in Paris in decades last weekend, many shops and restaurants in the center of the capital are expected to shut down Saturday, fearing a repeat of the violence.
Macron on Wednesday agreed to abandon the fuel tax hike, but protesters’ demands have now expanded to other issues.
Protesting students are disrupting schools and universities Thursday, and drivers are still blocking roads around France, now demanding broader tax cuts and government aid.

(With Reuters, AP)


South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

Updated 6 min 10 sec ago
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South Sudan vaccinates health teams in Ebola epidemic

  • The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule

NAIROBI: South Sudan will vaccinate key health workers against Ebola close to the border with the Democratic Republic of Congo, which faces a new epidemic, the World Health Organization said Monday.
The ministry of health’s vaccination campaign, with cooperation from the WHO, will target health care and frontline workers in the high-risk states of Juba, Yei, Yambio and Nimule, the UN agency said in a statement.
South Sudan is one of several countries bordering the vast DRC, where the new outbreak of the highly contagious viral disease had since August claimed 271 lives by December 6, according to Congolese Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga.
A total of 2,160 doses of the experimental vaccine rVSV-ZEBOV have been allocated to South Sudan for a program starting on December 19. This trial vaccine is not yet licensed but is considered safe and provided “under the compassionate-use guidelines in response to the ongoing Ebola outbreak in DRC,” the WHO said.
Like neighboring Uganda, where similar measures have been taken for health personnel, South Sudan has declared a state of alert because of the risk that Ebola may be carried into its territory. At present, no cases have been reported, according the WHO.
The experimental vaccine first went on trial during the terrible epidemic of Ebola that ravaged parts of West Africa between the end of 2013 and 2016, at a cost of more than 11,300 lives. The disease spreads through contact with bodily fluids from other people or infected animals.
The vaccine was created by Canadian public health specialists at the National Microbiology Laboratory and is considered highly effective by the WHO, but it works only against the Ebola virus-Zaire strain, confirmed in the outbreak in the DRC.
South Sudan has been torn by civil war for five years in a conflict that has left nearly 400,000 dead. More than four million people — about a third of the population — have fled.
The main belligerents signed a peace accord in September, but the work of humanitarian organizations remains complicated and dangerous.
Participants in the vaccination program have been trained on rVSV-ZEBOV and undertaken a simulation exercise. Meanwhile, the Ebola preparedness contingency plan covers measures ranging from screening travelers, community engagement and provision for safe and dignified funerals, the WHO said.