French press review 3 July 2012
The French public debt. That's the only story in town this morning. Who made it so big? How can it be made smaller? Could we sell it to the Chinese? Is there an alternative to financial belt-tightening? Who should pay?
Yesterday, you will understand, the French national auditor published his 250-page report on the state of the economy."He" is actually a committee, but let's not quibble
Far from being a blanket condemnation of the recently evicted right-wing government of François Fillon, the crucial message seems to be that France will have to save at least eight billion euros this year, and a further 33 billion in 2013.
That's always assuming that economic growth will soar from the present rate of zero or slightly less, to a probably fictional one per cent. It's worth remembering that every half per cent missing from the growth figures adds about five billion euros to the amount the government has to find if it wants to get the public spending gap down to three per cent in 2013.
Right-wing Le Figaro is anxious to point out that the report, by a group chaired by a socialist, is far from critical of the last government, simply emphasising that the range of cuts launched under Fillon and Sarkozy are going to have to be continued by Ayrault and Hollande.
Where, wonders Le Figaro, does that leave the mad socialist promise to take on a further 65,000 civil servants. If, as now seems inevitable, we all have to start paying more taxes this summer . . . there's even talk of an increase in the level of VAT, the sales tax . . . then how is the economy going to get the boost which will finally get the economy going?
Communist L'Humanité offers four solutions: change the way in which taxation is organised, so that small businesses get to pay less than their current 30 per cent, and make the profit monsters which dominate the Paris Stock Exchange pay more than the current eight per cent.
L'Humanité would also like to see an end to tax cheating, a redefinition of the way the European Central Bank calculates France's level of indebtedness and the mechanisms the same ECB is allowed to use to help individual national economies.
Finally, says the communist daily, we need to stop regarding budgetary hardship as the cure. It is, in fact, the illness. Government income is simply not high enough, because of the various tax loopholes created under the last administration. Make the rich pay more tax, and all will be well.