New year, new laws in France

eiffeltowerPeople in France have started the year amidst a flurry of change.

The number of regions in the country has been whittled down from 22 to just 13. While some, such as Brittany, remained unchanged, elsewhere two or even three regions have been combined.

The change was made in an attempt to streamline regional government and to run the country more efficiently.

The names of the new regions have yet to be announced.

As part of the scheme, Paris administration was enlarged to Grand Paris, or "La Métropole du Grand Paris" as a number of suburbs and local communes were integrated into the capital to foster greater cooperation.

The minimum wage grew by all six euros a month, bringing it up to €9.67 an hour or €1,466.62 a month.

Meanwhile, anyone who cycles to work can qualify for a payment of 25 cents for every kilometre cycled between home and office, although the outer limit is €200 a year.

Motorists will benefit from a fall in petrol prices. The drop was for the fourth month in a row, this time by an average of 2%. The prices have dropped by an average of more than 10% since January last year.

A new simplified tax system will begin which will take income tax (Impôt sur le revenu) at source rather than after fining annual returns.

As many as 8 million French taxpayers are likely to pay less this year than they did in 2015.

But motorists and homeowners with insurance will see their premiums go up with a “terrorism tax” designed to help the families of terror victims.

Bank fees are set to rise, including several banks which had not charged in recent years. The amounts vary per bank but appear to range from €16 to €30.

And, as reported earlier, the doggy bag was made into law with restaurants now obliged to provide them to customers who want to take their leftovers home. The law is mandatory for any establishment serving more than 180 meals a day.

It is part of government initiatives to reduce the 7 million tonnes of food binned each year in the country.

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