French National Assembly approves ‘yellow vest’ tax cuts

The number of people who have been killed during the “yellow vest” protests since they began in early November rose to nine on Thursday. (Reuters)
Updated 21 December 2018
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French National Assembly approves ‘yellow vest’ tax cuts

  • The tax cuts for low-income workers were put forward by Macron in a televised address earlier this month
  • Economists estimate the cuts will cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion)

PARIS: The French National Assembly on Friday approved a package of emergency concessions first announced by President Emmanuel Macron in a bid to end the violent “yellow vest” protests.
The tax cuts for low-income workers were put forward by Macron in a televised address earlier this month to help cool weeks of protests that brought major disruption to the country.
The measures provide a “quick, strong and concrete response” to the crisis, said the labor minister Muriel Penicaud in a debate which lasted into the early hours of Friday morning.
The measures include the removal of a planned tax increase for a majority of pensioners and tax-free overtime pay for all workers.
Economists estimate the cuts will cost up to 15 billion euros ($17 billion).
The concessions will now move to the Senate for approval.
Tens of thousands of people joined rallies across France on consecutive Saturdays in a movement which sprung up over fuel tax hikes but snowballed into broader opposition to Macron.
Police this week said they would start removing barricades at roundabouts and on motorways after the demonstrations began to run out of steam.
The protests, which at times spiralled into violence, took a toll on the economy, with businesses counting the cost of supply disruptions, smashed property and a dearth of shoppers and tourists who stayed away from city centers.
On Thursday the president told critics of the fuel tax hikes “you’re right” after 1.15 million people signed a petition suggesting several other ways to fight fossil fuel pollution.
Macron called the petition a “citizens’ act.”
“Your message, I heard it. I am responding to you directly, you are right,” Macron wrote on the website Change.org.
He reminded the petition signers that his government has canceled the planned increase in fuel tax and that no hikes in gas and electricity prices would be made during the winter.
While restating that reducing fossil fuels which contribute to climate change was a necessary action, Macron added that it “must not put the problems of the end of the world in opposition to the problems at the end of the month” — alluding to the anger of the “yellow vest” protest movement about the cost of living in France and the difficulty in making ends meet.
The number of people who have been killed during the “yellow vest” protests since they began in early November rose to nine on Thursday after a 60-year-old man was hit by a lorry at a demonstration next to a motorway near Agen in southwestern France.


Eight killed by explosion in Somalia's Mogadishu

Updated 15 June 2019
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Eight killed by explosion in Somalia's Mogadishu

MOGADISHU: A car bomb exploded near the Somali parliament Saturday, killing eight people, emergency workers said, hours after militia executed nine civilians from a clan with suspected links to the extremist Al-Shabaab.
"We have confirmed eight people killed and 16 others wounded in the blast," the private Aamin Ambulance service said.
A second blast on a key road leading to the airport of the Somali capital Mogadishu did not cause any casualties.
The Al-Shabaab group claimed responsibility for the attacks saying "they were targeting two checkpoints, one of them along the airport road and (the other) along the road that leads to house of legislators."
Abdulahi Mire, who witnessed the explosion near the parliament building said; "I saw four dead bodies and four others wounded in the blast."
Police sealed off the road and ambulances rushed to the scene, he added.
Local shopkeeper Naimo Ali said the blast was "huge" and destroyed a part of her shop.
"I saw several people strewn in the road and some of them were motionless," she added.
According to security sources the second explosives-laden car a Toyota Noah, was spotted by security forces at a checkpoint. They opened fire and killed a man in the car, which then exploded.
No one was injured in the blast.