French President Francois Hollande is up to his neck in controversy following statements by his government’s labor minister, Michel Sapin, that suggested the country is insolvent.
“There is a state but it is a totally bankrupt state,” Sapin said during an interview with a Paris-based radio station. “That is why we had to put a deficit reduction plan in place, and nothing should make us turn away from that objective.”
Critics of the Hollande government immediately pounced on the comments, according to European news sources. The turmoil comes at a time when the president and his Socialist allies are undertaking a broad spending cut initiative coupled with targeted stimulus measures aimed at boosting flagging economic growth. The United Kingdom’s The Independent, an international media network, reported on January 29 that President Hollande is pushing for 60 billion euros in cuts coupled with roughly 20 billion in increased taxes.
Other members of the French government took to the airways to denounce the labor minister’s comments. Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici told the BBC in an interview on January 28 that France is “truly solvent.”
“Having devoted most of his first year to policies that appealed to his left-wing base, Mr. Hollande is now facing the tougher decisions – cuts to public spending and labour reform,” Moscovici stressed. “And his labour minister, Michel Sapin, has spelt out why it is required.”
President Hollande has yet to make a statement regarding Sapin’s remarks, but the relatively quick move by another member in his cabinet suggests that he is taking the matter seriously.
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