Jean Castex: “From April 1, a fuel discount of 15 cents per liter will apply”

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Faced with rising fuel prices, Prime Minister Jean Castex is issuing his “fuel rebate” to take effect April 1 for four months. He urges tankers and distributors to make an extra effort on their part. The head of government also touches upon topical issues of accepting Ukrainian refugees and developing healthcare measures in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Many Ukrainians flee their country during the war. Is France capable of accepting 100,000 refugees, as some forecasts suggest?

JAN CASTEX. Today it is difficult to say for sure. But the figure of 100,000 is possible, and we must do our best to accommodate them. The principle is solidarity with the Ukrainian people. To date, we have already identified 30,000 hosting solutions, more than half of which come from individuals. And it will increase.

The French also fear for their daily lives. Some supermarket shelves are empty…

I want to reassure you: we do not foresee the risk of a shortage. The best way to avoid scarcity is not to create it yourself by stockpiling uselessly. On the other hand, the Ukrainian crisis does affect prices. But much more in the field of energy than food.

That’s right, fuel prices at the gas station are exploding. Will there be a gesture for motorists?

Yes, because the average of €2/litre for diesel and unleaded fuel is exceeded across the country and this is likely to continue. In addition, in addition to what we have already decided, the government will give all French people a fuel discount of 15 cents per liter. This discount, valid on all types of fuel, will apply from April 1 for four months. This means that for every 60 liters you save 9 euros.

Is it a tax cut?

No, it’s really a discount. Distributors will apply it, and the state will reimburse them for the costs. Why not lower taxes? First, because we need a law, and it takes more time. Then, because less taxation of polluting energy is anti-environmental. Finally, because this discount helps everyone, including tax-exempt professionals.

What will be the price for the state?

Just over 2 billion euros. At the entrance to the station, the motorist will still see, for example, 2.20 euros / liter, as today at some stations, but when paying with a bank card or at the box office, he will receive a discount of 15 cents per liter. I ask the oil companies and distributors to also try on their side. Given their financial situation, I encourage them to make an additional gesture. How can the French understand that they are paying 2 euros for a full tank of diesel fuel, while the oil companies are making big profits? If the state makes efforts at 15 cents per liter, and if they make efforts, for example, at 5 cents, then 20 cents should really go into the pocket of the French.

So it will cost 2 billion, but how much state he perceives additional tax revenue due to rising oil prices?

In the first half of 2022, if prices remain at this level, tax revenue from fuel will increase by less than 2 billion euros. Everything is returned to the French. And let’s not forget the 20 billion euros allocated since October last year to protect the purchasing power of the French in the wake of rising gas and electricity prices! I can’t say that the state is stuffing its pockets. It’s clearly the other way around.

Did this 15-cent drop affect everyone, including the pros?

Yes, farmers, artisans, builders, taxi drivers, truckers, everyone… Fishermen too. I know they have a very fuel intensive fleet of boats. I hear their impatience. In addition, we are working with local authorities on measures to reduce their social and port fees. This will be decided in the coming days, we will get there.

Were you not afraid that this promotion would be perceived as an election gesture?

The first thing that worries the French people I meet on my travels is the price at the gas station. You see me telling them, “Go ahead, there’s nothing to see!” because the election is less than thirty days away? This is not my concept of my responsibility.

This Monday, the last health restrictions will be lifted. And yet we are seeing a rebound of the epidemic. Is it very careful?

Indeed, we are seeing a resurgence of cases, as elsewhere in Europe. The scientific advice I requested tells us that this rebound is primarily based on the BA2 sub-option. It is more contagious than the original Omicron, but does not appear to be any more dangerous. Therefore, I believe that this should lead us to corrective measures, but certainly not to a change in our strategy. Because hospital pressure, which remains our Justice of the Peace, continues to drop and fewer than 1,900 patients are in intensive care. In mid-January, there were 4,000 of them. We announced that we would lift the restrictions when the situation in the hospital returned to normal. The fact.

Faced with a rebound, are you taking new measures?

Absolutely. The improvement in the hospital situation and high vaccination coverage encourage us to continue lifting the measures. On the other hand, we will support the most vulnerable people. First, by strongly recommending that people who are weakened by age or pathology continue to wear a mask indoors and in public gatherings. In addition, we are now opening up a fourth dose for individuals over 80 years of age who have received a booster dose for more than three months and who are at risk of gradual loss of immunity.

The situation in Corsica remains very tense after the aggression of Ivan Colonna. Will the situation be improved by removing the status of special detainees (OPS) from two other detainees involved in the Erignac commando?

I officially call for peace on the island. What happened in the prison of Arles is in no way a crime committed by the state, as I understand it in a completely scandalous way. This unacceptable aggression led me to remove the DPS status. (in particular, the detainee) Ivan Column. And from the moment he benefits from it, it made sense to do it for the other two. (Alain Ferrandi and Pierre Alessandri). I hope this helps restore peace of mind.

Lawyers for the detainees and their families believe that this decision is made very late…

We’re still talking about the group that orchestrated the assassination of the prefect. I took on my responsibilities. What’s the next gesture? Conditional release? This decision is up to the judge. The government’s priority is to address the core issues with the elected officials of Corsica and provide concrete answers to the island’s problems.

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