Royal favours state role to spur job creation

5th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 5, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Segolene Royal, bidding to become France's first woman president on Sunday, has pledged to temper the country's need for painful economic reform with a stepped-up state commitment to social welfare guarantees.

PARIS, May 5, 2007 (AFP) - Socialist Segolene Royal, bidding to become France's first woman president on Sunday, has pledged to temper the country's need for painful economic reform with a stepped-up state commitment to social welfare guarantees.

*sidebar1*Her "presidential pact," which underpins her campaign against right-wing challenger Nicolas Sarkozy, relies heavily on vigorous, re-distributive government measures to stimulate growth and employment.

Confronted by an estimated youth jobless rate of close to 20 percent, she would create 500,000 "springboard" jobs for young workers. The initiative would allow certain employers to hire youths who lack extensive training, with the costs being borne by regional governments for the first year.

Workers laid off for economic reasons would be entitled to continue to receive 90 percent of their salaries while undergoing re-training.

Unemployed workers receiving the minimum level of government assistance would be entitled to "solidarity" funds once they found a new job, boosting their income by a third.

The country's minimum wage level would be raised progressively over five years to a gross figure of 1,500 euros (2,100 dollars) a month.

Boosting consumer purchasing power, partially achieved by increasing retirement payments and housing allowances for low income groups, is at the heart of Royal's economic platform.

Her programme would be the subject of an annual conference of all of the country's leading economic players.

Stressing the importance of social dialogue, she has argued that compromise "benefits both workers and management," with the state responsible for ensuring "balanced" exchanges between the parties.

The state should also stand as a guarantor of equality in access to health care. Under a Royal presidency there would be no exceptions to a citizen's right to subsidized care. The benefits would be financed by the fruits of faster growth and greater employment.

The government would also act to shore up small and medium-sized businesses and to support research and innovation schemes and energy policies.

To those who voice fears that such a programme could threaten the health of France's public finances, Royal has vowed to streamline and rationalize the official sector, eliminating subsidies that are shown to be ineffective.

She foresees no tax hikes but has vowed to take a harder look at certain advantages now available to high-income earners, notably a 60 percent ceiling on direct taxation.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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