French Municipalities Resort to Distributing Food Vouchers Amid Inflation Crisis
13:26 GMT 25.05.2022 (Updated: 13:35 GMT 25.05.2022)
France has failed to escape the inflation crisis that is haunting Europe and being driven by rising food and energy costs. The calamity has been blamed on factors ranging from a global supply chain crisis and the COVID-related economic downturn to the bloc’s rejection of cost-competitive and reliable Russian energy supplies.
French municipalities have begun distributing food vouchers to help families cope with spiralling inflation, France 2 TV reports.
The certificates, which can be cashed in at supermarkets, include 5, 20 and 30 euro denominations, and are being distributed by some city administrations.
“Everything has increased in price, everything, even pasta”, pensioner Bernadette Chacornac told the outlet. “I have my partner, I have my son, so for all three of us together that’s quite a sum”, she said.
Lionel Buchet, mayor of the commune of Saint-Arcons-de-Barges, confided to France 2 that “food has jumped terribly in recent weeks, in recent months”, and expressed concerns that “this is just the start”.
25 May, 08:02 GMT
French consumers have felt the pinch of rising food and fuel prices, with the country facing an inflation rate of 4.8 percent in April, and the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (Insee) expecting this figure to jump to six percent in June. Inflation has been driven by a 25 percent jump in fuel prices, and a six percent rise in food costs, with bread products, pasta, cooking oil, poultry, fruits, and vegetables hit hardest.
Insee expects inflation to continue rising in the months ahead, predicting that further rises will “remain dependent on geopolitical developments around Russia” – a reference to the crisis in Russia-West relations over the conflict in Ukraine.
Russia's President Vladimir Putin commented on the European Union’s moves to reduce purchases of Russian energy last week, saying that such restrictions were being introduced for “absolutely political reasons” at the behest of Brussels’ American “overlords”.
“Obviously, together with Russian energy resources, economic activity will also be leaving Europe for other regions of the world. Such an economic auto-da-fe, or suicide, is of course the internal affair of European countries. We must proceed pragmatically and primarily from our own economic interests”, Putin said.
France depended on Russia for about 17 percent of its gas and nine percent of its oil in 2021. Paris joined other Western nations in sanctioning Moscow in February over its military operation in Ukraine, and has promised to find alternatives to Russian energy. Earlier this month, French energy giant Engie asked the EU to formulate clear guidelines on payments for Russian energy amid a spat over ruble payments for Russian gas supplies.
France’s economy ground to a halt in Q1 of 2022, posting 0.0 percent growth, below the 0.3 percent expected by economists.