France plans to introduce a rebate of €0.15 ($0.16) per liter of gasoline (petrol) or diesel to help drivers cope with soaring pump prices, Prime Minister Jean Castex said Saturday.
Transport fuel prices were already skyrocketingin the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic but have hit new highs due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
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In an interview with Le Parisien, Castex said the rebate would apply from four months from April 1 and would cost the government more than €2 billion.
He added that the subsidy would cover households as well as truck drivers and farmers.
The measure is expected to save a motorist €9 on a 60-liter fuel tank, Castex added.
He said the rebate would be applied at the time of payment, but will not be visible on the prices displayed at the gas station.
The prime minister also called for fuel companies to help ease the burden of high fuel prices for consumers.
"If the state makes an effort of 15 cents per liter, and they make an effort of 5 cents, it is 20 cents in the pocket of French people," Castex said.
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Presidential election looms
French President Emmanuel Macron, who is campaigning for a second term in elections next month, had promised the government would offer help to drivers.
Macron has said his government has already spent €20 billion euros to moderate gasoline and other energy costs.
His administration has limited electricity and gas hikes to 4% and offered low-income households a one-off €100 energy voucher.
Next week, Castex is also due to unveil "a plan of economic and social resilience" to counter the effects of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Asked whether the subsidy amounted to buying votes, Castex said the price of fuel had become "the primary concern of French people."
"Do you think I'm going to say 'Move on, nothing to see!' just because there is an election in less than 30 days? This is not my understanding of my responsibility," he said.
mm/dj (AFP, Reuters)