France: lawmakers pass bill to help voters cope with soaring prices

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The French government took a step forward on a key re-election promise to boost household purchasing power amid soaring inflation as the National Assembly passed a bill on Friday lifting pensions and temporarily
freezing rent hikes.

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In a first test of President Emmanuel Macron’ ability to reach compromises across party lines after losing the absolute majority in recent elections, the bill next goes to the Senate, the upper house dominated by the conservative Les Republicains.

The draft law also includes a pay rise for public sector workers, food checks and a mechanism for companies to make higher tax-free bonus payments to employees. The expected budget cost is about €20 billion ($20.37 billion).

Helping the French cope with a higher cost of living, mainly driven by soaring energy prices after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was one of Macron’s key promises after his first term saw street protests that drew fame as the yellow-vest movement.

Last month, France saw inflation of 6.5% on the year, in line with other euro zone countries.

The late-night vote followed heated debates in which politicians of the left-wing Nupes alliance, the largest opposition bloc, criticized the government for measures they said did not go far enough.

Securing 341 votes for the bill, with 116 against, the government was backed by Les Republicains and the far-right Rassemblement National, while Nupes lawmakers did not vote for it.

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