France offers motorists cash assistance to help pay for fuel

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PARIS (AP) — French Prime Minister Jean Castex announced on Thursday that millions of lower- and medium-income motorists would each be given 100 euros ($116) in one-off financial assistance to help them cope with rising gasoline prices.

Castex said on TF1 television it was “an exceptional response to an exceptional situation.”

The measure will concern about 36 million people who earn less than 2,000 euros ($2,325) a month, including employees, self-employed workers, job seekers and retired people, Castex said. The assistance will start being given in December.

The measure comes amid growing public discontent over a global energy crunch, coming just as many households are struggling to recover from the pandemic economic crisis.

The French government last month promised cash assistance of 100 euros for about 6 million low-income households, to help pay their energy bills.

Castex, who had previously announced the government’s decision to freeze natural gas prices, said that measure would last until the end of next year.

The issue in France in especially sensitive after the anti-government “yellow vest” movement which started in 2018 against a hike in fuel taxes — and was named after the fluorescent jackets French motorists are required to have in their cars. It quickly turned into a general protest against economic injustice, leading to weekly, sometimes violent demonstrations.

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