This is the latest measure in the government’s arsenal to fight against soaring energy prices and protect the purchasing power of the French. The “big wheeler” measure, intended for those who regularly use their vehicle to go to work, will come into force at the start of 2023. “We will announce this device at the beginning of December, so that it will be operational on 1is January, to take over from the rebate at the pump. It will be much more targeted and will concern people who work within the first five income deciles [les 50 % de la population les plus modestes]i.e. 7 million households, in order to reconcile the concerns of purchasing power and the environment”, says Matignon to Monde.
This “worker’s fuel allowance” must allow “to significantly help those who travel a long way to work”had indicated the Prime Minister, Elisabeth Borne, to the Echos November 18th. “We are still working on the planned scale”, she had specified.
For the executive, the challenge is multiple. It is first of all a question of preventing a new anger from motorists, after the strikes of the fall in the service stations and the trauma of the “yellow vests”, and while the discount at the pump in force for several months – lowered to 10 centimes per liter since mid-November –, must disappear at the end of the year. It is also a way of staying on the government line of support for those who work. “French people who work, or who want to work, must be our priority”repeated the Minister Delegate for Public Accounts, Gabriel Attal, in an interview with Parisian, sunday. He had himself indicated, at the end of October, that the system would be aimed at “big workers”.
Fossil fuel subsidy
The new system also has the advantage of being significantly less costly for public finances. The rebate at the pump will have cost a total of 7.6 billion euros this year. For 2023, Bercy will draw on an envelope of 1.8 billion euros voted as part of the 2023 budget and intended for “exceptional expenses”. Finally, it makes it possible to display an environmental objective, by dismissing the wealthier French people, who are likely to have vehicles that consume more fuel. It nevertheless constitutes, like the rebate at the pump, a subsidy for fossil fuels. “We can clearly see the redistributive arguments [de pouvoir d’achat]even if it is not ideal from the point of view of the ecological transition, concedes Camille Landais, the new boss of the Economic Analysis Council, a think tank attached to Matignon. We cannot be naive economists and manage everything by the price signal [une hausse des prix visant à faire changer les comportements], although it is important. »
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