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Opposition slams Sarkozy's growth plans

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 01:56

Jan.30 - France's Socialists have poured scorn on French President Nicolas Sarkozy's plan to hike VAT as yet more austerity that will hit the poor. Ciara Sutton reports

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There's been an angry reaction to the French President's proposed measures to boost the economy. Nicolas Sarkozy plans to raise VAT by 1.6 percent to fund a reduction in social charges on companies. He said the increase would have little impact on prices in a weak economy. But voters aren't so sure. (SOUNDBITE) (French) NICOLAS, A PARISIAN, SAYING: "It struck me that I was looking at someone who had completely lost it. For me, that's really not performance. I think France is unhappy and sad because of this guy." (SOUNDBITE) (French) THIERRY, A PARISIAN, SAYING: "The divide seems so large and the French seem so out of love with Sarkozy that one gets the impression that even he understands that it's not a done deal." Presidential elections take place in France in April. And many believe the reforms are politically motivated. Martine Aubry, from the opposition Socialist Party, says they'll hit the poorest hardest. (SOUNDBITE) (French) MARTINE AUBRY, A SENIOR FRENCH SOCIALIST SAYING: "He's going to continue with austerity, with the Sarkozy VAT rate and that's going to make the situation more precarious. Real competitiveness is what Francois Hollande is proposing: putting finance at the service of the economy." The reforms also include a tax of 0.1% on financial transactions. A move France hopes will be adopted across the E.U. No further detail was given on the tax, but sources say it will target shares rather than bonds. And could raise a billion euro annually. French papers were divided in their reaction to his speech. Le Figaro newspaper said it was an ambitious reform programme. While the message from the left-leaning Liberation was bleak: they called him a lost president. Sarkozy has not yet formally announced his bid for re-election. He is trailing in the polls behind rival, Francois Hollande who could win comfortably if trends continue. Hollande, has vowed to scrap the increase in VAT if voted in. Ciara Sutton, Reuters

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Opposition slams Sarkozy's growth plans

Monday, January 30, 2012 - 01:56