To great ills, great remedies. Faced with the coronavirus and "economic emergency", the National Assembly voted on the night of Friday to Saturday a new budget with considerably increased expenses, between support for businesses, aid for the poorest and premium for carers. This second amending finance bill, after that adopted in March, is expected in the Senate on Tuesday. It takes into account the plan of 110 billion euros announced by the government to hold on.
In opposition, despite reservations, LR and the PS voted for the text, unlike the Communists and the rebels. Who will pay for these new expenses? The left and the far right have already launched the debate by demanding the reinstatement of the solidarity wealth tax (ISF) to make the richest contribute, while the government refuses any tax increase to this stage.
Recapitalized companies, called to be "exemplary"
Another bone of contention, the 20 billion euros planned to recapitalize strategic companies in difficulty, particularly in aeronautics and the automobile. Oppositions have asked for clarification and environmental NGOs denounce "a check for large polluters", without conditions. "It will not be a blank check", retorted the Minister of Economy Bruno Le Maire in the hemicycle, conditioning the capital increases or possible temporary nationalizations to "an effort of recovery and competitiveness" as well as "an ambitious environmental policy".
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An LREM amendment was thus voted overnight so that these companies are "exemplary" in terms of social and environmental responsibility, "in particular in the fight against climate change". "Pipeau" according to the unregistered and former Minister of Ecology Delphine Batho. And simple "greenwashing", considers the former LREM MP and close to Nicolas Hulot Matthieu Orphelin, author of a rejected amendment.
24 billion euros in credits for short-time working
Faced with a crisis of unprecedented magnitude, this new budget is based on grim macroeconomic forecasts with a decline of 8% of GDP in 2020, a public deficit of about 9.1% of GDP and debt at 115% . The 8% drop in GDP is "a severe figure" but "not final", warned Bruno Le Maire, while his colleague from Public Accounts Gérald Darmanin noted that "we have taken 20 points of debt in three months ".
The government added 2 billion in spending on Friday evening by widening the short-time working scheme to certain categories, by funding non-sanitary masks, or by supporting animal parks in difficulty, which reduces the forecast deficit from 9 to 9.1 % of GDP. This new budget brings in particular to some 24 billion euros for partial unemployment, a third of which is covered by Unedic. "Nearly 9 million employees today are part-time unemployed," which should avoid "mass layoffs," said Bruno Le Maire.
5.5% VAT for masks and hydroalcoholic gel
The text also raises the solidarity fund for very small businesses and the self-employed to 7 billion euros. This bill also includes a "repayable advance" for SMEs that do not get a loan, as well as a support fund for medium-sized businesses of one billion euros. On the right, Eric Woerth (LR) asked for charges cancellation for hotels, restaurants or shops. Gérald Darmanin indicated studying "an exemption from (employer) charges upon resumption".
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Finally, this legal text finances the exceptional premium of 500 to 1,500 euros intended for carers. And includes aid for the most modest households (recipients of social minima) of 150 euros, plus 100 euros per child, announced by the executive on Wednesday.
Estimated at 880 million euros in total, this aid is considered insufficient by the left. "It affects families in great precariousness but there remains a whole category of working poor" with "a feeling of injustice, perhaps even anger," according to Jean-Louis Bricout (PS). At the end of the afternoon, the deputies had also adopted a drop in VAT, from 20 to 5.5%, on masks and hydroalcoholic gel to make them more accessible during this crisis.