PARIS: French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday warned that recent protests against planned tax rises on petrol and diesel had “serious impact” on the country’s economic activity.
“Recent events related to the movement of ‘Yellow Vest’ have had a serious impact on the national economic activity, in France mainland and in some overseas regions,” Le Maire told reporters.
“It is too early to say whether there will be an impact on growth, but all business leaders say that the impact on economic activity is serious,” he added.
The “Yellow Vest” fuel price protests, which got its name from the high visibility vests drivers keep in their cars, was created on social media, after several groups have called for blockades and go-slow operations across the country to oppose higher fuel tax and the rise in diesel’s price.
For more than a week, protesters have blocked highways in many regions, obstructed access to fuel depots, shopping centres and some factories.
The protests drew 282,000 on Nov. 17 and 106,000 last Saturday across French cities.
On Nov. 24, the demonstrations were marred by violence notably in Paris where riot police fired tear gas and used water cannons at protesters who trashed restaurants and shop-fronts and set bins and barricades on fire on the Champs Elysees Avenue, one of the country’s major tourist destination.
Retailers saw an 18-per cent fall in revenue last week and 35 per cent a week earlier, according to French minister, who pledged to guarantee “freedom of trade and circulation throughout the country to enable economic activity to continue its trend”.
To this end, he proposed “concrete measures”, including an acceleration of compensation and additional openings on Sunday to offset the loss.