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Hollande promises more tax cuts

In Bastille Day interview, President promises more tax cuts next year and says he will protect foreigners voting rights

PRESIDENT François Hollande yesterday pledged to “reform until the last minute” in a bid to breathe life into France’s “fragile” economy, while also promising to cut taxes, improve job prospects for younger people, and protect voting rights for foreigners.

In the President’s traditional television interview on Bastille Day, broadcast a matter of hours after he was booed during the parades in Paris, Mr Hollande said extra effort will be made next year to reduce taxes for middle-class voters on top of previously announced plans to reduce or remove income tax for three million less-well off taxpayers.

“Several hundred thousand people will pay less,” he said. But he would not go into specifics.

He also said he had no intention of waiving the right to vote in municipal elections for foreigners living in France.

"Can we understand why people who have been here for 20 years, 30 years, should not even vote in elections that affect their community?" he asked.

And he vowed to fight youth unemployment by kick-starting the apprenticeship scheme. Currently one-in-four young people are unemployed in France.

Acknowledging that recovery in France was "too weak, too hesitant, too vulnerable," Mr Hollande reiterated his commitment to the so-called Responsibility Pact, which aims to deliver €40bn in tax cuts for business and €50bn in public spending cuts over the next three years.

But business leaders and the public remain sceptical, especially with unemployment in France rising to a record 3.38million and the economy apparently stagnating.

Mr Hollande insisted that businesses could be sure he will stick to his promises on taxes and spending and said the government would not be afraid to legislate if discussions between employers, the unions and the state did not lead to agreement on plans to improve the economy, such as Sunday trading.

He urged people to “be proud”, saying: ““Don’t speak well of the president - I’m not asking you that much. Or of the government - I hope that will come - but speak well of your country.

“When I’m abroad, people speak well of France ... there are many entrepreneurs in our country who push forward France’s assets, there are lots of big companies that are among the biggest exporters, there is lots of know-how.”

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