Nicolas Sarkozy promises more 'fuel' for French economy

30th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 November 2007, PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged Thursday to "put some fuel" back into the French economy, as a poll showed his confidence ratings suffering from the morose economic climate.

30 November 2007

PARIS - President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged Thursday to "put some fuel" back into the French economy, as a poll showed his confidence ratings suffering from the morose economic climate.

"I want to put some fuel back into the French economy," Sarkozy told a prime-time interview with TF1 television.

But with sluggish growth and France's public finances stretched to capacity, the president warned the solution to stagnating wages and rising prices could not come from state "hand-outs".

"The French people are not waiting for me to hand out gifts like Father Christmas when they know there is no money in the coffers," Sarkozy said.

French growth for this year is expected to struggle to hit 2.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), while the country's overall deficit for 2008 is expected to reach 2.3 percent of GDP.

The eurozone's second largest economy is under pressure from its European partners to rein in spending and meet a 2010 target for a balanced budget.

Sarkozy insisted the only way to boost spending power was to allow people to "work more to earn more" -- his key campaign slogan -- promising to let firms circumvent the 35-work week under agreement with workers and unions.

He also said he wanted workers to be able to cash in their extra holiday time linked to the 35-hour week, as much as three weeks per year in some cases.

"There is no question for me of scrapping the 35-hour week. This is not about going back on a social progress, but about allowing people to work more to earn more," Sarkozy said.

French morale has also been badly hit by stagnating wages, rising inflation  -- which hit two-percent last month for the first time since May 2006 -- and a persistently high jobless rate, at 8.1 percent.

Recent figures from the INSEE statistics institute showed French consumer confidence slipping to its lowest level at its lowest point since June 2006.

Sarkozy's confidence rating has also plunged below the 50-percent mark for the first time since his election in May according to a poll released on Thursday.

According to the TNS-Sofres poll, carried out last week at the height of a paralysing transport strike but before the wave of unrest in the Paris suburbs, 49 percent of the French public trust Sarkozy to "solve France's problems".

Sarkozy's rating was down four points since the previous month, and showed a 15-point drop since September.

According to the TNS-Sofres poll, 87 percent of the public believe the government is failing to tackle rising prices, while 73 percent think it is not doing enough to fight unemployment.

AFP

Subject: French news

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