France announces bold plan to slash national deficit
Desiring to preserve AAA credit rating, France maps out austerity plan
Desiring to protect their AAA credit rating, France has announced a series of austerity measures that will slash its national deficit. The plan will save around $138 billion, or 100 billion euros by 2016. The plan, announced on Monday, would save about $9.6 billion in 2012, followed by savings of about $16 billion in 2013.
'I want to tell the French people that the budgetary and fiscal efforts that we undertake today are a choice we make for the country and for generations to come,' Francois Fillon, the French prime minister said.
"The time has come to adjust France's efforts. With the president, we have only one goal: to protect the French people from the serious difficulties that many European countries are now facing," Francois Fillon, the French prime minister said.
"I believe that our citizens are now aware of the risks to our livelihoods and futures caused by deficits and debt. Bankruptcy is no longer an abstract term. Our financial, economic and social sovereignty require prolonged collective efforts and even some sacrifices."
"I want to tell the French people that the budgetary and fiscal efforts that we undertake today are a choice we make for the country and for generations to come."
French President Nicolas Sarkozy currently suffers from low approval ratings, The plan will hopefully bolster his re-election efforts as he seeks a second term.
The Sarkozy government says extra savings are urgently needed to keep France's finances under control, since it cut its growth forecast for next year to one per cent from 1.75 per cent last week.
The new measures follow August's 12-billion euro deficit-cutting package that raised taxes on the rich and closed tax loopholes.
Fillon discussed specific budget cuts and tax increases at a press conference, including a rise in the value added tax (VAT) paid on many goods and services from 5.5 per cent to 7.0 per cent and a temporary rise in corporate taxes paid by large companies by five per cent.
Francois Hollande, widely believed to be the Socialists' presidential candidate and Sarkozy's main rival in next year's election, says that raising the VAT rate so soon after lowering it would be "the proof of inconstancy, political incoherence."
Fillon also confirmed on Monday that France's retirement age would be increased from 60 to 62 by 2017, rather than 2018 as previously announced, drawing criticism from labor unions.
Jean-Claude Mailly, head of the French General Confederation of Labor, said that accelerating the pace of pension reform would be "significant and provocative."
© 2011, Catholic Online. Distributed by NEWS CONSORTIUM.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: France, austerity, eurozone, credit rating
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