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Swine flu vaccines ‘cost too much’

Finance watchdog the Cour des Comptes says the state wasted too much money on the swine flu campaign

STATE finance watchdog the Cour des Comptes has criticised the costs of the swine flu vaccination campaign in the winter of 2009-10.

In its latest annual report, the body said that it cost the state €110 per person vaccinated, which was poor value for money: the campaign cost €663 million for only five million people vaccinated.

It highlighted “multiple weaknesses” in the way the state went about it, for example not being strict enough in its negotiations with the laboratories making the vaccine, and not making enough use of GPs and hospitals.

A raft of other matters were also addressed, including excessive farmer subsidies for banana growing in Martinique, which were said to represent 65 per cent of the value of the crop, and too much money spent on running artificial snow machines by the mairie of Courchevel (€5 million a year).

Lax working practices at the port of Marseille were also flagged up. Salaries have risen too much, official working hours have dropped while hours billed as overtime have gone up, and while staffing was meant to have been cut, it has increased. Crane drivers are said to get €3,500-4,500 a month for 12 hours’ work a week, a figure which is inflated by “illegal bonuses”.

The Cour des Comptes also criticised an exemption from tax and social charges accorded to football referees since 2006, created to tackle a shortage of referees in amateur sport. In fact, the body said, it mainly benefits sport federations and competition organisers, who are also exempted some of their part of the social charges, and well-paid professional referees.

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