France risks ‘social explosion’ over high taxes

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In a secret report leaked to the press, regional officials warn government that France risks civil unrest over public anger at tax hikes.

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France is on the verge of a “social explosion” over ever-increasing taxes, regional officials have warned the government in a private briefing that was revealed Thursday by conservative daily Le Figaro, reports FRANCE 24.

The report, compiled by France’s prefects (regional officials responsible for policing and civil administration) at the end of October, said French society was “rife with tension, frustration and anger” over seemingly endless hikes in taxes as ordinary citizens’ spending power continues to plummet.

France is the second-most taxed European country after Belgium. Much of it is paid through social charges (income tax is relatively benign) which the French have been happy to contribute in return for decent public services and an unemployment safety net.

But patience is wearing thin. New levies, imposed as the government tries to rein in soaring public debt, risk sparking civil unrest, as seen last month in Brittany over a new green tax on heavy goods vehicles, the prefects warned.

The government was forced to cave in and “suspend indefinitely” the so-called “eco-tax”, which was due to go into effect in January 2014, after tens of thousands of farmers, hauliers, fishermen and small business owners protested in demonstrations that turned violent.

Read more of this report from FRANCE 24.

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