How the government and the right agreed to cut fuel – Liberation

Even before the details of the purchasing power texts are made public, before the debates in the Assembly even open, this is the first door that the government has opened. The latter would not have camped on its devices provided for in the amending financial law (PLFR), providing for the gradual end, between 1 October and 1 December, of the discount of 18 cents on each liter of gasoline, as well as aid more targeted to do so, the fuel allowance for workers.

It would therefore be on aid to families for fuel purchases that the new executive method affirmed by the Prime Minister in his general policy speech two weeks ago would have materialized. “I want us together to give meaning and virtue to the word compromise, forgotten for too long in our political life”, Elisabeth Borne then said.

The agreement on the fuel measure was built through phone calls, lunches and discussions between Bercy, Matignon, the general rapporteur of the text, the Renaissance deputy Jean-René Cazeneuve and the caciques of LR. Majority MPs such as Charles Sitzenstuhl insist that the “compromise” builds with everyone “Except RN and LFI”, because we “He does not work with the two extreme groups, but with the opposition groups of the government”.

A liter of petrol for 1.50 euros in September?

On this issue, the government has therefore only asked for the approval of the traditional right. The latter firmly defended, initially, a fixed price of petrol at 1.50 euros, lowering taxes. A solution that Bercy has estimated at around 40 billion euros, the cost of which is difficult to predict as it depends on the future evolution of the price of gasoline. A proposal that was not unanimous even in LR, especially among the party’s senators.

During the debate in the Assembly, Saturday 23 July, Bruno Le Maire, Minister of Economy and Finance, unveiled the contents of the new system during a “Commitment on the bench” since it will be written by decree, and is not subject to modification and therefore to a vote. Once out of the targeted compensation, the discount is increased to 30 cents in September and October, then to 10 cents in November and December. “The state provides its protection and responds to Republican expectations by increasing its discount from 18 cents to 30 cents. We therefore arrive at a price of petrol that in September can reach 1.50 euros by accumulating the discounts [dont celle accordée par TotalEnergies qui n’est pas seul vendeur d’essence en France, ndlr], with a strong incentive for other oil tankers to follow suit. And we respect the budget of € 4.4 billion. This is how we build an effective and responsible compromise. Compromise that allowed the passage to evacuate the idea of ​​a 15% tax on the superprofits of multinational energy companies required on the left, but also by some on the right, which Total wanted to avoid at all costs and which do not implement the government at all.

Top exit for LR

Bruno Le Maire repeated his conditions on Friday 22 July in the hemicycle, at the beginning of the PLFR exam. “I set only one limit: our public finances”, he said, recalling that the increase in key rates decided the day before by the European Central Bank would have consequences on the conditions for financing the debt. He also said: “We are ready to discuss an increase in this fuel discount, provided that the total amount of the envelope does not exceed the 4.4 billion euros that is allocated to fuel in this text.” Far from the 40 billion that the LR group wanted. “They were cornered and there they found a way out from above”, we consider in the government.

On the podium, in fact, on the same Friday, Véronique Louwagie, vice president of the finance commission of LR, had delivered her new shopping list and her “prerequisite”. Judging the “A drop of 18 cents too insufficient”, he had called on the government to give up “This new fuel control aimed only at a few”. If he kept the desire for a liter of gasoline that “must get closer” of 1.50 euros, the proposed route to get there was different, as it took into account the discount of 20 cents announced on Friday 22 July by Total in all its stations and no longer provided for any reduction in taxes.

Expensive and uneven

After the return of inflation, pump prices have attracted the greatest attention. They have soared in the wake of rising oil prices following the outbreak of the war in Ukraine. In recent days, the price of oil has calmed down to around $ 100 a barrel, which is still 43% higher than a year ago. This is reflected in gas stations, where the price of a liter of diesel and lead-free795, for example, has dropped from the mid-June peak, to below two euros, according to statements by the Ministry of Ecological Transition, after deduction. the discount of 18 cents per liter financed by the state.

This government discount, hastily implemented on April 1, has many flaws. Not only is it expensive for public finances, since it costs € 800 million a month when it is 18 cents, but this fossil fuel subsidy also conflicts with the government’s discourse on ecological transition. Finally, it does not help, but then not at all, to those who need it most. On the evening of Thursday 21 July, with some timeliness, the Economic Analysis Council published a study based on bank data. “These data therefore confirm the intuition that the price reduction of 18 cents on the price at the pump is regressive, note the authors. In fact, it benefited in euros, more to wealthier families, by multiplying the subsidy between 10th and 1st decile families by two: around 18.50 euros against 9.50 euros.

Bruno Le Maire says thank you on the right

Well aware of these limits, the government had therefore planned to gradually eliminate this discount of 18 cents: in the bill it was written that it would drop to 12 cents in October, 6 cents in November before the deadline of 1 December. The compensation for the workers would have taken over, in the form of a bonus of between 100 and 300 euros, depending on the resources, the composition of the family unit and the distances traveled. These two devices represented a public expenditure of 4.4 billion euros.

The lengthy negotiations on the subject once again demonstrate which side the relative majority is leaning on. “What a surprise to see the majority reach an agreement with LR deputies. It’s a beautiful happy ending “ mocked the communist deputy Nicolas Sansu. “They wanted to please LR, not PS, we see among the socialists. LR won on its flagship proposal. The disabled adult allowance is the only time we have discussed. On the rest of the important topics, it was either “get moving, there’s nothing to see”, or Elisabeth Borne who called to offer us a vague amendment on the bike. Bruno Le Maire made no secret of it on Friday 22 July, assuring the deputies of LR: “Thanks for the gestures you made in our direction, we will be able to answer you”. It is done.

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