Sarkozy vows to put France back to work

5th May 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, May 5, 2007 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to put France back to work, pledging to use the five-year mandate he is seeking in Sunday's presidential vote to spur economic growth through tax cuts and market-based reforms.

PARIS, May 5, 2007 (AFP) - Nicolas Sarkozy has vowed to put France back to work, pledging to use the five-year mandate he is seeking in Sunday's presidential vote to spur economic growth through tax cuts and market-based reforms.

*sidebar1*Sarkozy, standard-bearer of the centre-right UMP, has said he will confront head-on France's dubious distinction of being "the European country that works the least" if he defeats Socialist rival Segolene Royal.

In the face of legislation restricting the working week to 35 hours, Sarkozy wants to give workers a chance "to work more to earn more."

Without scrapping the 35-hour week, he would allow employers to boost overtime pay by 25 percent, with the extra hours exempt from taxes and social charges.

The goal would be to strengthen consumer purchasing power, galvanize economic momentum and thereby slash France's 8.3 percent jobless rate, among the highest in the eurozone.

He has promised tax cuts totalling 15 billion euros (20 billion dollars) at the start of his term as well as a four-point reduction in income tax and social charges -- worth almost 70 billion euros -- over a two-term presidency.

He has also said that no one should pay more than 50 percent personal tax.

Starting in the coming months taxpayers would be able to deduct interest payments made on property purchases while inheritance taxes would be abolished for almost all households.

Determined to bolster the work ethic in France, Sarkozy has said jobless workers should not be able to turn down two consecutive job offers without risking losing their unemployment benefits.

He maintains that "earnings from labour must always exceed government assistance."

He has also advocated a simplified employment contract that would make it easier for companies to shed workers, introducing flexibility in the tightly regulated French labour market.

In a move to solidify public finances, one of every two civil servants who retires would not be replaced, while reimbursements for certain medicines and medical procedures would be abandoned.

Ambitious programmes to combat poverty and improve public services "are only possible if we first create material wealth," he has said.

In spite of his preference for the market, Sarkozy has insisted the public sector under his watch would not be neglected. There would be massive investment in research and innovation and a special social security regime established for workers who lose their jobs.

He has also made clear his opposition to the "excessive compensation and privileges that a small minority of bosses has awarded itself" and has urged the European Central Bank, in setting interest rate policies, to pay closer attention to the economic concerns of eurozone member governments.

Furthermore, despite his free-market credentials, he is seen taking a traditional French "dirigiste" approach to industrial policy, being prepared to intervene in key economic sectors and companies when necessary. 


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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