FILE PHOTO: A shopper pays with a euro bank note in a market in Nice, France, April 3, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard
March 16, 2022
PARIS (Reuters) – The French government presented on Wednesday a new round of measures to help households, companies, farmers and fishermen cope with the economic fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We have to prepare for a long crisis,” Prime Minister Jean Castex told a news conference as he presented the new “resilience plan”.
“We must prepare without delay measures to limit the impact on our companies, our jobs and our purchasing power”, he told journalists.
With a presidential election looming next month, the government already last year capped gas and power price increases and offered financial handouts to low-income households to cope with higher energy prices and inflation.
As the Ukraine crisis puts additional pressure on prices, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said that the additional measures would bring the total bill to 25-26 billion euros ($27.5-$28.6 billion).
Among the new measures, Castex said the government would cover more than half of the cost of companies’ increase in their gas and power bills to help absorb losses they would have otherwise suffered.
Meanwhile, firms struggling with high energy prices or the loss of export markets would be able to get tax and payroll charges postponed.
Castex said that the government would also prolong and expand state-guaranteed loans set up during the COVID-19 crisis as well as reactivate a subsidised furlough scheme for firms suffering from a drop in client demand.
With fuel prices at a record high, a 15 cent per litre fuel discount announced this weekend would be broadened to include natural gas used in vehicles while TotalEnergies had indicated it would add an additional discount at its petrol stations, Castex said.
The new package also included measures targetting the fishing, road transport and construction sectors.
($1 = 0.9088 euro)
(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Leigh Thomas; Editing by GV De Clercq)