French lawmakers approve stimulus plan

The massive stimulus plan unveiled in December by French president Nicolas Sarkozy was approved by France's National Assembly on Tuesday. The Senate will vote on the 26-billion-euro plan on January 21 and 22.


AFP - France's National Assembly on Tuesday approved the massive stimulus plan unveiled in December to help stave off the global economic crisis, worth an estimated 26 billion euros (34 billion dollars).

President Nicolas Sarkozy's right-wing UMP party, which has a comfortable majority in both chambers of the legislature, carried the lower house vote by 316 to 212, overriding opposition from the Socialist, Communist and Green parties.

The text has yet to be approved by the upper house Senate, which is to vote on it next week.

France's contribution to a Europe-wide economic revival drive combines massive state investment and aid for the vital car and construction industries along with measures to shore up hard-hit businesses and boost housing.

The French government has said the package would add a percentage point to French growth next year.

But it will also put French finances further in the red by 15 billion euros, with the public deficit set to climb to four percent of gross domestic product, well above the three percent European benchmark.

The main opposition Socialist Party has denounced the plan as recycling spending projects that were already planned, while failing to do enough for struggling households.

France narrowly averted a recession in 2008, but official forecasts predict it will fall into recession next year for the first time since 1993, as the country faces a steep rise in unemployment.

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