FRANCE

French parliament passes security-conscious budget after Paris attacks

Some of the 8,000 troops deployed in Paris after the Paris attacks
Some of the 8,000 troops deployed in Paris after the Paris attacks Reuters/Charles Platiau

The French parliament has passed its 2016 budget, as well as a revised one for 2015 that took account of extra security spending due to the January and November terror attacks. A prolonged debate in both houses saw argument on whether enough is being done to cut the deficit and a surprise move by the government to block an anti-tax evasion amendment.

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The budget has bounced back and forth between the lower house, the National Assembly, controlled by the Socialists and their allies, and the upper house, the Senate, controlled by the right during the course of December.

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The government boasted that it is reining in public expenditure, with a record low rise in spending bringing the deficit down to its lowest level since 2008, while the opposition complained that it was the smallest reduction in the eurozone.

Plans to reduce the deficit have been disrupted by extra spending on security following the 13 November attacks on Paris and January's Charlie Hebdo massacre and on military operations in Africa and the Middle East - 170 million euros extra for soldiers mobilised in France and 650 million euros extra for interventions abroad.

The 2016 budget will cut low-income families' taxes by two billion euros but also see spending cuts of 8.6 billion euros.

There are also tax rises on diesel fuel and cuts for unleaded and other measures flagged as eco-friendly and more tax cuts for businesses to encourage them to take on workers.

The debate saw a surprising move by a government that is supposed to be tackling tax evasion.

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On Tuesday it suspended an overnight parliamentary session and dragged MPs from their beds to vote down a proposal to force companies to publish details of their profits, employment levels and tax payments in every country where they are registered.

Ministers argued it would reduce French firms' competitivity, a point that failed to impress NGOs and left-wingers who accused it of giving in to big business lobbying.

 

 

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