French lawmakers approve $20.3 billion to help households amid rising prices

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French lawmakers on Wednesday approved a 20 billion euro ($20.3 billion) package of measures to help struggling households cope with rising energy and food prices.

The vote of 395 to 112 came after a heated debate in the National Assembly, where French President Emmanuel Macron no longer has a majority. The Senate is expected to vote on the text later Wednesday.

The bill was a key promise from Macron, who was reelected to a second term in April. It was also a crucial test of the government’s ability to govern and the ability of opposition forces to influence the legislative process.

Macron’s centrist alliance won the most seats in the National Assembly in June, but lost its absolute majority as a left-wing coalition and the far-right made big gains, becoming powerful opposition forces .

Annual inflation hit a record 8.6% for the 19 countries using the euro, inflated by a huge rise in food and energy costs fueled in part by the war in Ukraine. In France, annual inflation is estimated at 6.5%.

Your purchasing power is our priority, French government spokesman Olivier Veran tweeted.

To protect you from inflation, we have maintained the cap on gas and electricity prices and established a price cap to limit rent increases to 3.5%.

The bill also includes a 4% increase in pensions and some social benefits. On fuel, a current state-funded rebate of 18 cents per liter will be increased to 30 cents in September and October. Private companies are also encouraged to offer employees a tax-free annual bonus of up to 6,000 euros (6,080 USD).

The text was supported by members of Macron’s centrist alliance, the conservative Les Républicains party and the far-right National Rally. It has been debated in parliament alongside an updated version of the finance law, which is due to be voted on later this week.

The left-wing Nupes coalition, the largest opposition force, made up of the far left, Communists, Socialists and Greens, criticized the measures as not going far enough and voted overwhelmingly against the bill Wednesday.

Aurélie Trouv, of the far left party La France insoumise, declared that nothing was up to inflation… The project is in fact to sanction the decline in purchasing power.

Heated discussions in the National Assembly led to the debate spilling over into evenings and weekends, with lawmakers from Macron’s alliance sometimes having to rush into the chamber to prevent amendments from being passed. opposition.

We are experiencing one of the most serious energy crises, which accounts for around 60% of current inflation, said Minister for Energy Transition Agns Pannier-Runacher.

She said the bill includes measures to boost France’s energy production and supply, possibly including the requisitioning of gas-fired power stations if gas supplies were threatened.

Another measure plans to install a floating terminal in the western port of Le Havre to be able to import more liquefied natural gas, which comes by ship from places like the United States and Qatar.

Recent weeks of debates in the National Assembly have contrasted with previous years, when Macron used to have a large majority allowing him to pass measures almost automatically.

The parliamentary session ends this week for both chambers of parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate. French lawmakers will resume the debate in October.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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