News / Economy

    French PM Suspends ‘Ecotax’ on Trucks After Protests

    French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (front) and Agriculture, Food Processing Industry and Forests Minister Stephane Le Foll arrive to deliver a statement at the Hotel Matignon offices in Paris, Oct. 29, 2013.
    French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault (front) and Agriculture, Food Processing Industry and Forests Minister Stephane Le Foll arrive to deliver a statement at the Hotel Matignon offices in Paris, Oct. 29, 2013.
    Reuters
    France's Socialist government made its second climbdown on tax policy in a week on Tuesday amid rising protests against the fiscal burden and opinion polls showing its approval rating at an all-time low.

    Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault announced the suspension of a planned environmental tax on trucks after protests in the western Brittany region, but denied his administration was on the run over what his finance minister has called “tax saturation.”

    Hundreds of protesters clashed with police in Brittany last weekend, protesting against the planned “ecotax” on heavy goods vehicles which was set to bring in about 1 billion euros ($1.38 billion) per year to help finance mostly rail projects.

    “I have decided to suspend the implementation of the ecotax to give us the time we need for a national and regional dialog,” Ayrault said after meeting lawmakers, trade unionists, farm leaders and employers from the western region, hit by a series of food industry plant closures.

    “Suspension does not mean abolition,” he added, noting that the tax, due to go into force on Jan. 1 and already postponed several times, had been adopted by the previous conservative government.

    President Francois Hollande's government, struggling to bring down the public deficit without killing a fragile economic recovery ahead of municipal and European elections next year, backtracked last weekend on plans to increase tax on some savings products.

    Earlier this month, ministers scrapped a planned new corporate tax harshly criticized by business leaders and said they would temporarily increase existing company taxes instead.

    At 46.0 percent of GDP, the French tax burden is already one of the heaviest in the world. It is set to rise marginally to 46.1 percent next year.

    Although the government has shifted the burden towards spending cuts rather than tax hikes in the 2014 budget, now going through parliament, business leaders and voters have expressed mounting discontent.

    Hollande has become the most unpopular French president on record, an opinion poll showed on Monday, due to anger over tax rises, unemployment and immigration.

    Some 26 percent of voters view taxes as a major issue, 17 percentage points more than in a previous poll a year ago.

    “We need to listen to the country,” Trade Minister Nicole Bricq told Reuters in an interview. “These are not backward steps but a sidestep, the government is not in an ivory tower.”

    You May Like

    US Leaders Who Served in Vietnam War Look Back and Ahead

    In New York Times opinion piece, Secretary of State John Kerry, Senator John McCain and former Senator Bob Kerrey say as US strengthens relations with Vietnam, it is important to remember lessons learned from war

    Who Are US Allies in Fight Against Islamic State?

    There is little but opportunism keeping coalition together analysts warn — SDFs Arab militias are not united even among themselves, frequently squabble and don’t share Kurds' vision for post-Assad Syria

    Learning Foreign Language Helps US Soldiers Bridge Culture Gap

    Effective interaction with local populations part of everyday curriculum at Monterey, California, Defense Language Institute

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora

    World Currencies

    EUR
    USD
    0.8916
    JPY
    USD
    109.40
    GBP
    USD
    0.6905
    CAD
    USD
    1.3147
    INR
    USD
    67.522

    Rates may not be current.