The Minister of the Economy wanted to reassure the French against a backdrop of exploding prices on the wholesale markets.
The increase in electricity and gas tariffs for consumers will becontainedin 2023, when prices exploded on the wholesale markets, assured Saturday the Minister of the Economy Bruno Le Maire. “The 4% cap (of the regulated tariff, editor’s note) will be maintained until the end of 2022, there will be no catch-up on this cap in 2023, and the increases mentioned by the President of the Republic and the Prime Minister will be contained increases“, declared the minister on the sidelines of the congress of majority executives in Metz. He then clarified that thecontained increasesto come in 2023 would also concern the price of gas, without going into more detail.
Wholesale electricity prices for 2023 broke a record for France on Friday, reaching more than 1,000 euros per megawatt hour (MWh), against around 85 euros per MWh a year ago. Gas prices for their part evolved this week at historic levels, more seen since the start of the Russian invasion in Ukraine, i.e. more than 300 euros per MWh. “For the most modest households, there will be energy vouchers which will help those who are most in difficulty to pay their energy billsadded Bruno Le Maire.
“We don’t want inflation to translate into economic brutality for French households“, underlined the minister. “We want it to be soft, bearable, contained“, he hammered, adding that the effects of inflation for the population should be “smoothed over time“. However, he warned that this surge could not be eternally cashed in by public finances: “that does not mean that we can block everything ad vitam aeternam“, he warned.
A counter endowed with 3 billion euros for companies
If some households are likely to experience difficulties, this will also be the case for businesses. Admittedly, the Minister of the Economy recalled that 1.5 million SMEs benefited from the regulated electricity tariff and that others benefited from preferential tariffs, nevertheless a fund has been set up for those who do not benefit from these advantages. “They have access to a one-stop shop with 3 billion euros“, underlined Bruno Le Maire. The Minister nevertheless acknowledged that the granting conditions were too demanding. He promised that the government wouldsimplify in the days to come these criteria for access to the one-stop shop so that any company which is currently in difficulty because its electricity bill has exploded and it is not protected by regulated tariffs , can more easily access these grants“, he promised.
Asked about the cost for the State of this aid and the capping of energy prices, Bruno Le Maire indicated that “all budget forecasts were made taking into account the very sharp increase in electricity and gas prices. We are not taken aback“.
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