Macron announces Tax cuts, wage hikes


President Emmanuel Macron broke his silence Monday on the exceptional protests shaking France and his presidency, promising broad tax relief for struggling workers and pensioners - and acknowledging his own responsibility in fueling the nation's anger.

Graffiti throughout the French capital singles Macron out for criticism, reflecting a national sense that the 40-year-old centrist former banker is arrogant and out of touch.

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced last week that he was backing down from the proposed fuel price hike.

French president Emmanual Macron has delivered a speech on Monday raising the issue of the yellow vests protests that have been shaking France recently.

Le Maire said that he was in favour of accelerating tax cuts - one of the demands of the working- and middle classes protesters.

"I know that I have hurt some of you with my statements".

"We will respond to the economic and social urgency with strong measures, by cutting taxes more rapidly, by keeping our spending under control, but not with U-turns", he said in a televised address.

Speaking with a soft voice and gentle tone, Mr Macron pleaded during a brief televised address for a return to calm after nearly four weeks of protests that started in neglected provinces to oppose fuel tax increases and progressed to rioting in Paris. To do so, he said, would "weaken us".

Macron asked employers to consider granting end-of-year bonuses to employees.

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At the same time, Macron refused to reverse path in other areas, saying his 2017 decision to abolish the wealth tax - a major gripe of protesters - was necessary to bring investment and jobs to France.

In a massive climbdown he then vowed to increase the minimum wage by 100 euros per month from 2019.

Macron also rolled back most of an unpopular increase in taxes on pensioners which was introduced by his government.

French media reported that 136,000 protesters took to the streets nationwide Saturday.

Macron's plan to remake France as a more flexible, competitive and high-tech economy fit for the 21st century is at risk after the Yellow Vests tapped into a deep well of resentment for both his policy plans and his style.

Some protesters, interviewed on French television, acknowledged that Macron had made some "concessions", but added that these were "insufficient" to call the protests off.

Some protest representatives have said more demonstrations will be held on Saturday, following the ones in Paris that turned violent during the previous two weekends.

"I feel in many ways that the anger of the yellow vests is justified", he said in his first public comments for more than a week. Instead Macron is expected to announce a series of measures to reduce taxes and boost purchasing power for the masses who feel his presidency has favored the rich.