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Latest update : 2008-06-13

France's government announced a new reform package on Wednesday, pursuing its policy of cutting public spending. The third and latest package forecasts 8 billion euros in savings with important downgrades in the diplomatic service.


(PARIS) - The French government unveiled on Wednesday a third and final wave of reforms aimed at rationalising the state administration and reducing public spending, including a shake up of the diplomatic service.


President Nicolas Sarkozy has already announced two packages of measures to tackle inefficiencies across the government and the final raft of initiatives should enable the state to make savings of some 8 billion euros ($12.4 billion) a year by 2012.


“This is an unprecedented project for a deep-rooted transformation of our state,” government spokesman Luc Chatel told reporters after the French cabinet approved the reform.


“The idea is that the state should do better with less money,” he added.


The three pronged reform combines 332 measures and touches on most aspects of state administration, including Sarkozy’s 2007 election pledge to cut France’s army of civil servants by only replacing one out of two retiring public sector workers.


However, the government will still have to find further savings of around 40 billion euros if it wants to honour its promise to the European Union and balance its budget by 2012.


Wednesday’s measures will affect an array of ministries, including those for education, agriculture and culture.


The foreign ministry also faces a potentially radical reform, with one out of every five embassies likely to see their activities downgraded and ministry employees in France centred in three sites against nine at present.


France is also likely to review its aid programmes, cutting back on funding to multinational projects run by the likes of the European Union, and concentrate instead on bilateral deals.


Le Monde newspaper said France additionally wanted to scale back the number of countries receiving development aid to between 30 and 40 from more than 100 at present.


In a move that might spark student protests, the government also announced that it planned to reform the way it financed universities from 2009, allocating money on a performance basis.


Students have in the past fought any attempt to let performance measurements dictate funding decisions, demanding the nation’s network of universities be treated in an even-handed fashion.


After reviewing the French administration infrastructure, the government is now expected to look at ways to make savings in extremely delicate areas such as health and housing.


But any moves in this area are not expected until after the August holidays.

Date created : 2008-06-12