…As Fuel tax rises in 2019 budget dropped, following France protests***
Italian shipping company Grimaldi Group has taken delivery of its newest pure car and truck carrier (PCTC) Grande Torino from the Chinese shipyard of Yangfan, Zhoushan.
Handed over to the company on November 28, the unit is the first one from a series of seven sister vessels ordered by the company from Yangfan.
Featuring a length of 199.9 meters and a beam of 36.4 meters, Grande Torino has 65.255 gross tons and a service speed of 19 knots.
Grimaldi Group said that the ship, which flies the Italian flag, is one of the largest car carriers on the market. It can transport around 7,600 CEU or 5,400 linear meters of rolling units and 2,737 CEU. With four hoistable decks, Grande Torino is able to load any type of rolling freight up to 5.3 meters high.
The ship is fitted with an electronically-controlled main engine, allowing it to meet the new regulations for the reduction of nitrogen oxide emissions (NOx), and a hybrid exhaust gas cleaning system for the abatement of sulphur oxide emissions (SOx). It is also equipped with a ballast water treatment unit, which will allow it to meet the future international regulations.
“With the deployment of the Grande Torino, our biggest car carrier vessel, the group’s fleet becomes even younger, more innovative and more efficient,” Emanuele Grimaldi, Managing Director of the Group, said.
Grande Torino will be employed on the weekly ro-ro service operated by the Grimaldi Group between the Mediterranean Sea and North America (Canada, United States and Mexico), along with the already operating Grande Halifax, Grande Baltimora and Grande New York.
In the meantime, fuel tax rises which sparked weeks of violent protests in France have now been dropped from next year’s budget, the government has announced.
The move was announced by Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, who a day earlier had only promised to postpone them for six months.
The “gilets jaunes” (yellow vest) protests have hit major cities over the past three weekends.
Further demonstrations are planned for this weekend.
They have grown to reflect more widespread anger at the government.
The “yellow vests” are so called because they have taken to the streets wearing the high-visibility yellow clothing that is required to be carried in every vehicle by French law.
Four people have died since the unrest began and the resulting violence and vandalism have been widely condemned.
What has the prime minister said?
Mr Philippe said on Tuesday that the next planned rise in the so-called carbon tax on vehicle fuel, which had been due to come in on 1 January, would be suspended for six months to allow consultations.
He also said that planned increases in gas and electricity prices this winter would be halted, and that a toughening of the rules for vehicle emissions tests would also be postponed.
On Wednesday, Mr Philippe told the lower house of parliament: “The government is ready for dialogue and is showing it because this tax increase has been dropped from the 2019 budget bill.”
It is a major climbdown by the government of President Macron, who had said the measures were necessary to combat climate change and meet budget deficit reduction targets.
Why the widespread anger?
Mr Macron was elected on a platform of economic reform which would improve the lives of French people via lower unemployment and a kick-started economy.
But many feel that has not emerged. An analysis of the 2018-19 budget carried out by France’s public policy institute, for example, found that incomes for the poorest quarter of households would largely drop or stay the same under the plans.
Middle-income earners would see a modest bump – but the greatest beneficiaries would be those who were already wealthy, in the top 1%. The pattern is worse for retired people – almost all of whom will be worse off.
World Maritime News with additional report from BBC