French Finance Minister backs possible French petrol cheques By Reuters

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire attends a news conference to present French government 2022 budget at the Bercy Finance Ministry in Paris, France, September 22, 2021. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

PARIS (Reuters) – French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday he was in favour of handing out “petrol cheques” to help low-income households cope with the rise of energy prices, instead of cutting taxes on gasoline.

“I prefer petrol checks to a lowering of taxes”, Le Maire told Europe 1 radio, adding that the latter solution could also be seen as an endorsement of fossil energy, upon which the government wants to become less dependent.

French Environment Minister Barbara Pompili had also told France 2 TV on Monday that the government was trying to set up these “petrol cheques”, while adding that doing so was a complex process.

Le Maire said the French state could gain an extra 2.5 billion euros ($2.9 billion)in VAT (value-added tax) for 2021 if energy prices remained at current high levels.

But he said this was not an extra fiscal income for the government’s coffers at is was already spending more than five billion euros in helping households pay their heating bills.

The government had already said in September that it was considering extending the benefit of energy vouchers to more households to ease the cost of rising energy bills. Energy vouchers are currently granted to nearly 5.5 million households in France.

($1 = 0.8640 euros)

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