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French press review 25 September 2013

Who will have to pay for the crisis in France's budget, due to be announced today? And how is the world doing in the fight against poverty?

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The front page of Le Monde has French president François Hollande increasing the tax pressure on businesses.

That may come as a surprise to those who, a week ago, were reading in the same paper that the next budget was going to encourage employment and production by giving the employers a tax break, with the ordinary taxpayer taking up the slack to the tune of 15 billion additional euros. The truth seems to be that we're all going to have to pay, big time, to keep the national ship afloat.

We will learn the definitive details later today, when the official budget for 2014 is finally presented. What is certain is that France will remain heavily Indebted, even if all budget targets are scrupulously met . . . the national debt will be 82 billion euros next year, despite a huge effort to reduce public spending.

There are at least two problems:

  • First, some deputies within the Socialist majority want changes to next year's tax provisions in favour of the least well-off;
  • Second, according to communist L'Humanité, public money is being handed out without any sort of control and the working man is being crushed by a tax burden which should be borne by the top French companies and their well-holed shareheelers.

Then there's the question of the 15 billion euros to be saved by state institutions . . . governments always promise to spend less and always spend more. That's as ineluctable as the law of gravity and is provoked by inflation.

Catholic La Croix has been looking back to the millennium development goals, established by the United Nations General Assembly in the year 2000 with a view to reducing the impact of poverty on a global scale by the year 2015.

Dossier: Eurozone in crisis

Later today, with just two years to go, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will chair a meeting to assess progress.

La Croix says the first objective, the reduction of extreme poverty, has already been met. It's largely a statistical triumph but the number of people living below the threshold of 90 centimes of a euro per day has been reduced by 50 per cent. There are still at least 870 million malnourished or undernourished human beings struggling to get by.

The second millennium objective, to give every human being at least a primary education, won't be met, even statistically. An estimated 57 million kids never go to school at all, one quarter of those who do are forced to leave before the end of the primary cycle. Girls and the very poor are the worst affected.

And the inequality of the sexes becomes more evident the further you advance along the road from primary to university education.

Sadly, most of the millennium goals will be missed. And crucially, according to La Croix, we have completely forgotten those goals that were intended to reduce the human impact on climate change.

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