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Sarkozy orders ministers' perks to be slashed

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-06-29

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has confirmed plans to slash spending on ministerial perks as part of a drive to reduce government running costs at a time when austerity measures are being imposed across the country.

Orders from the top: where the cuts must be made
The president:
  • Cancellation of the July 14 garden party at the Elysee Palace
  • No more presidential hunts
  • Scrapping the two medium-range Airbus jets (when the new A340 is delivered)
  • End of tax breaks on government housing
  • Tighter restrictions on MPs expenses
  • Greater use of public transport and government lodgings rather than hotels
Government ministers:
  • Ministerial staff to be capped at 20 for ministers and four for junior ministers
  • Budgets for staff reduced by 10 percent
Civil service:
  • Perks to be reduced with expenses strictly in line with job functions
  • Getting rid of state-owned homes as they are vacated
  • 10,000 vehicles and 7,000 properties gone by 2013


Fight against waste:
  • Internal flights banned for civil servants where a train journey would take less than three hours
  • Halving of use of paper in government offices
  • Reduction in the use of rented office space

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has moved to cut back lavish spending among his ministers in a bid to show greater restraint at a time of heightened austerity for the country.

Known for his designer clothes and love of Rolex watches when he came to power in 2007, Sarkozy is imposing a culture of self-restraint from the top down, as his government rolls out austerity measures to reduce the nation’s deficits.
"At a time when our compatriots are hit by the crisis, the state must more than ever set an example," Sarkozy said in a letter to Prime Minister Francois Fillon on Monday.
"The search for savings in the administration is necessary to restore our public finances. It is also a moral imperative," he added.
Sarkozy ordered Fillon to "vigorously reduce" perks and "systematically tackle spending that is unjustified and excessive in the current context.... That is our duty to taxpayers."
Public austerity

Fillon's government has vowed to slash public spending by at least 100 billion euros over three years.

Mass street protests took place last week against the government's plans to raise the retirement age from 60 to 62, part of efforts to bring down France's soaring public deficit.

In an exercise in setting an example from the top, Sarkozy said he wants to cut 10,000 vehicles and 7,000 cars from the government fleet by 2013, encouraging officials to use trains for short-haul trips and stay in state-owned properties instead of hotels where possible.

Use of paper in government offices would be slashed by half and rented office space cut back, he added.

Sarkozy added that two medium-range Airbus jets owned by the government would be sold – once the French state has taken delivery of its brand spanking new Airbus A340 for presidential and ministerial use.

It emerged last week that Mr Sarkozy has scrapped the traditional July 14 Elysee palace garden party in a bid to save cash and show public self-restraint.

‘Presidential hunts’

One presidential perk that smacks particularly of “ancien regime” excess is “presidential hunts”.

Hunts were a historical privilege of leaders, abolished in the French revolution but later restored. So-called "presidential hunts" of wild boar took place on state-owned land and media reports have claimed they were offered as a treat to important guests.

These will be replaced with culls managed by the agriculture ministry when needed to maintain the environmental balance.The call for restraint in public office follows scandals including revelations that of Christian Blanc, a junior minister for development of the Paris region, who spent 12,000 euros of taxpayers' money on cigars.

WB5073217-F24-EN-20100629 - The President's letter to his PM (in French)

In March, Alain Joyandet, another junior development minister, was criticised for spending 116,500 euros to hire a private plane to take him to Martinique for an emergency meeting on the earthquake in Haiti.

Date created : 2010-06-29