Government finalizes fuel plan


by Simon Carraud
PARIS (Reuters) – The government will unveil early next week its battle plan developed urgently to respond to public discontent over rising fuel prices, Matignon said.
The executive is particularly thinking of ways to extend and make more advantageous its "energy check" and the bonus to conversion paid to motorists who change vehicles, two devices supposed to restore purchasing power to the French.
The ministers and advisers involved are forced to work quickly on this subject, which has shown in a few weeks how flammable it could be.
Demonstrations, road blocks and snail operations, the magnitude of which will serve as a gauge of the level of anger, will be held on November 17 at the call of motorists wearing a yellow vest standard.
Meanwhile, the rates at the pump have dominated the recent news to the point of eclipsing part of the traveling commemorations in the East and North Emmanuel Macron, several times stopped by motorists scalded.
Forced to react, the head of state drew tracks in an interview with Europe 1 broadcast Tuesday, leaving his government to finish.
"The state can make an effort," said François de Rugy, minister of ecological transition, on franceinfo.
The former president of the National Assembly mentioned in particular an extension of the conversion premium, whose allocation criteria could be relaxed to benefit the "big wheels".
"It can be cars that have a high mileage even if they are not old enough," he said.
Currently, this bonus of a few thousand euros is paid to motorists who scrap their diesel vehicle before 2001 – 2006 for non-taxable households – or gasoline before 1997 for a cleaner car and less energy hungry.
However, according to François de Rugy, there is no question of increasing the amount of premiums, already sufficiently attractive in his opinion, as evidenced by the success of the device.
According to the government, the premium will have allowed more than 250,000 vehicles to be changed by the end of this year, which is half the initial target of 500,000 set for the five-year period.
According to MP Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, a specialist in transportation issues at LaRem, the executive has revised its forecasts accordingly and is now betting on one million bonuses by 2022.
The state is also negotiating with the builders, called to participate in the war effort.
PSA is willing to double the state premium for new vehicles and Renault agrees to extend it to used cars, said François de Rugy.
Another lever: the "energy check", designed to help households pay their bills for electricity, gas, heat, heating oil or other heating fuels as well as some energy renovation work.
"There are several technical solutions: either (…) we make the fuel eligible, or we increase a little bit the amount, or we cover more people," said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari Friday on RMC.
The average amount of this check, which concerns 3.7 million households, is 150 euros and it was expected, before the start of the challenge, to bring it to 200 euros next year, for a total of 710 million euros.
"We are trying to extend, perhaps 1.5 or two million French who would be eligible for the energy check," said Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, without giving more figures at this stage.
The government is also betting on the recent drop in the price of a barrel of oil, which has lost 20% of its value since the last peak reached October 3.
This decline in prices, which is explained by the promise of producing countries to open the floodgates, the expected slowdown in global growth and the exemption of some countries from US sanctions against Iran, could, however, to be a parenthesis.
The executive, for its part, does not intend to reconsider the long-anticipated increase in ecological taxation on 1 January 2019 – + 6.5 cents per liter of diesel and +2.9 cents for gasoline.
 (With Jean-Baptiste Vey and Myriam Rivet, edited by Sophie Louet)


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