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Minister: France will cut taxes to reduce pump prices

France is planning to cut taxes on petrol and diesel in a bid to reduce pump prices for drivers. This is seen as a first step to make good on election promises the Socialists had made during the presidential campaign.

The French government said on Wednesday it would moderately reduce taxes on petrol and diesel to give angry drivers a better deal at the pumps.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told the domestic broadcaster BFMTV that the planned cuts would be temporary and were meant as a countermeasure in Paris' endeavors to keep soaring fuel prices at bay.

He added the move would come ahead of the introduction of a more permanent mechanism to regulate fuel prices, but did not say what exactly that would involve.

Germans worried, too

The government's initiative comes on the back of election promises the Socialists had made during the presidential campaign of Francois Hollande. However, the issue had not been followed through immediately after the successful campaign because of a temporary lull in global oil prices that removed the topic from the political agenda.

French fuel companies warned against any government considerations to slap down a simple price cap on petrol and diesel, saying such a move would simply lead to shortages before long.

Rising fuel prices have also been a major concern for German drivers who currently have to pay record sums to fill up their cars. But oil companies have brushed aside any talk about a rip-off.

"In Germany, fuel prices before tax are about the lowest in the whole of Europe, and there's a very fair competition going on," claimed the head of the Association of the German Petroleum Industry, Klaus Picard.

The German government recently announced plans to make fuel suppliers become more transparent in their pricing and delivery policies.

hg/slk (AFP, dapd)