France’s ‘Sale of the Century’ Could Lead to More Protests

France’s ‘Sale of the Century’ Could Lead to More Protests

France’s latest plans to boost its economy are set to provoke more nationwide protests, with a proposed sale of Government stakes in some of the country’s biggest firms likely to prove the most controversial.

France’s latest plans to boost its economy are set to provoke more nationwide protests, with a proposed sale of Government stakes in some of the country’s biggest firms likely to prove the most controversial.

The country’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire presented the details of the so-called Action Plan for the Growth and Transformation of Companies, or ‘Loi PACTE’ to President Emmanuel Macron at a Cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace. The aim is to cut red tape and make businesses more competitive in the global marketplace.

Plans include scrapping obligations on firms that are triggered when they hire their 20th employee and making it easier for them to comply with regulations by launching a new online portal. Workers would also be guaranteed two seats on any company board of eight members or more.

But the privatisation plans will be the most hotly contested, as evidenced by the current wave of rail strikes over moves to sell off chunks of France’s national train company, SNCF.

The new law could see the state selling off stakes in huge concerns such as national airport operator Groupe ADP, and state lottery firm La Française des Jeux. Proceeds would go towards a new €10 billion innovation fund unveiled last year.

Marine Le Pen, head of the far-right National Rally party, criticised the plans and far-left leader Jean-Luc Melancon said he would nationalise major state companies if he ever came to power.

The Loi PACTE has already been delayed by months and Macron’s decision to press ahead comes as the time window narrows for parliament to vote on the bill before the summer recess.

Macron has categorised his movement as ‘neither left, nor right,’ but critics say his economic reforms have a distinct right-wing feel to them, including the abolition of wealth taxes, reducing workers’ rights and deficit reduction.

French unemployment is hovering at just below 9 percent and its GDP grew by only 0.2 percent in the first four months of this year.

(Banner image: Flickr )

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