France revises ’19 growth target due to ‘Yellow Vest’ protests

21 March, 2019 12:00 AM printer

PARIS: France has reduced its economic growth target for this year to 1.4 percent from 1.7 percent after the "Yellow Vest" protest movement severely impacted the country's economy, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said here on Tuesday. "What's obvious is that the ("Yellow Vest") crisis has had a significant impact on our growth ... It had erupted during the most important period of consumption of the year: Christmas festivities," Le Maire said, reports Xinhua.

"Growth should reach 1.4 percent in 2019, a figure that I will confirm when I present the program of stability next month," he said during a hearing before the Senate law and economic affairs committees.

The French minister warned that the street protests against high living costs, which sometimes turned violent, would have "a long-term and indirect impact on France's attractiveness."

He noted that movement's social action would not call into question the country's "economic fundamentals ... which remain strong."

The "Yellow Vest", named after the high-visibility vests all motorists in France wear in their cars, started their protests on Nov. 17, 2018 as a grassroots social media-based citizens' movement. Their initial aim was to denounce French President Emmanuel Macron's fuel tax increases, arguing that these measures would further erode purchasing power.

However, over the past weeks the movement has evolved into a wider social rebellion, with protestors urging Macron to step down and calling for a "citizens' initiative referendum" to allow the public to have a stronger say in defining the economic and social roadmap for the eurozone's second largest member.

During the latest demonstration, 1,500 far-left militants wreaked havoc on Champs Elysees avenue in Paris, where they clashed with police, set cars and buildings on fire, looted shops and smashed shopwindows.

Police said the protests left 60 individuals, including 17 police officers, wounded.

The recurring protests have forced the authorities in Paris and elsewhere to lock down some of the country's main tourist sites.