4 Jul 2012

France to tackle debt burden - PM

10:06 am on 4 July 2012

French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault has called on the French people to rally behind the government to tackle what he calls a crushing and unprecedented debt crisis.

Mr Ayrault on Tuesday outlined the new Socialist government's plans for the next five years in a keynote speech to parliament, the BBC reports.

He confirmed those earning more than €1 million a year would be taxed at 75% and promised that people on lower incomes would be spared the brunt of budget cuts and tax increases.

The Prime Minister said his government would go ahead with plans to hire thousands more teachers and police and create 150,000 state-aided jobs - both election pledges made by new President Francois Hollande.

Mr Ayrault revised France's economic growth forecasts, saying GDP was likely to grow 0.3% this year, down from 0.5%, and to increase by 1.2% in 2013 instead of a previously expected 1.7%.

Mr Ayrault said the aim of the belt-tightening was to have a balanced budget in 2017.

However said he would not be introducing austerity measures, and that a number of summits - on social issues, the environment, education - would be held in the next few weeks.

Mr Ayrault also said gay couples would be allowed to get married and to adopt children from next year in line with an election pledge made by President Hollande.