The Assembly is considering anti-inflationary measures and reviving budget debates

French MPs revise 2022 finance law to fight inflation (Emmanuel DUNAND / AFP/Archives)

Amid new measures and counter-matches, the Assembly on Monday began examining changes to the 2022 finance law to fight inflation, while repeating the budget debate of the past few weeks on super profits, or super dividends.

To pass this second draft of the year’s budget amendments, the government hopes to avoid a new appeal to Article 49.3 of the Constitution, which allows texts to be adopted without a vote unless a motion of no confidence is accepted and has already been used four times by the Prime Minister. Minister Elizabeth Borne on the 2023 State and Social Security budgets.

Minister of Public Accounts Gabriel Attal wants to believe that “a large majority can be gathered” behind these adjustments to the 2022 budget.

Mission on Nursing Homes

He advocated measures for universities in the face of rising energy prices, the military in the face of rising fuel prices, or extending the 30-cent-per-liter discount at the pump until November 15.

The government is also considering a new energy voucher of €100 to €200, the most modest of €1.5 billion.

Gabriel Attal promised “openness” to the opposition and urged them to refrain from “repetition of discussions” regarding the state budget.

In vain. Several provisions that were canceled or were not discussed according to clause 49.3 of this text were brought up for discussion again.

The left has advocated various versions of a super profits tax, rejected by the majority, and a government that advocates a European-wide mechanism.

The restoration of the exit tax and the system of taxation of “super dividends” – voted during the examination of the state budget, then abolished thanks to Article 49.3 – were renegotiated and rejected.

In a rare moment of agreement, MPs noted the mission statement on the significant costs of nursing home residents.

First the tax credit amendment from Socialist Christine Pires Beaune. It was accepted by the assembly, then rejected by the executive because of the estimated cost of 700 million euros.

The deputy defended him again on Monday, but Gabriel Attal offered to lead a mission on the question.

After a discussion between the minister and about fifteen MPs, Christine Pires accepted Beaune, but asked for “support tools for the services (of the ministry) to do quality work”.

Consensus on pellets?

In a session without any setbacks for the executive branch, the opposition tried to reduce VAT on a range of services and products, from the repair of certain goods to wood pellets.

Executive and speaker Jean-René Cazeneuve (Renaissance) systematically argued that these cuts would not automatically affect prices for consumers.

But in the case of pellets, they said they were in favor of “special assistance” for people who use these small sawdust cylinders as fuel for stoves or boilers, the number of which has been increasing in recent years.

Various amendments, which are still to be investigated from left and right, offer envelopes between 250 and 320 million euros for heating households with wood (pellets or logs).

Pressed to decide on a figure, Gabriel Attal did not want to “prejudge” future discussions, but estimated that “a fund of around €230m would look quite positive”.

The law does not rule out a vote on this amendment budget. “Depending on the fate of the changes, we reserve our vote,” said deputy LR Véronique Louwagie, who insisted on taking measures to repair the heating of the apartments.

A tax credit in this direction was rejected, but Les Républicains planned other proposals.

While socialists have not ruled out abstaining on the text, which includes “no negative action,” the left generally sees the budget amendments as insufficient.

Eric Coquerel, chairman of the LFI Finance Committee, said that “certain measures are clearly going in the right direction” and lamented that “problems (are) only being addressed on the surface”.

MP RN Alexandre Sabatou described the text as “disappointing” even if it was “difficult to reject as a whole”.

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