Prime Minister Raymond Barre proposed an $885 million emergency plan to Parliament today in an effort to prop up the ailing economy, mainly by attempting to furnish jobs for some of 1.1 million unemployed.
The program calls for speciel steps to find jobs for unemployed youths, boost living standards for the aged and speed economic growth with special incentives that will cost the government $1.64 billion over two years.
President Valery Giscard d'Estaing hopes to win back votes to his Gaullist and Centrest coalition through the plan which plays down any thoughts of austerity and sacrifice over the next 10 months, Washington Post correspondent Jim Hoagland reported.
Giscard's forces were badly beaten in last month's municipal elections and appear to be trailing the allied Socialist and Communist parties in the build up to parliamentary elections schelduled for next March.
Barre II, as the plan is called, would try to stimulate employment by giving tax credits to companies that hire young unemployed workers, special payments to workers who retire at 60 rather than 65 and up to $2,000 to unemployed immigrant workers who want to return home. About 20,000 public-sector jobs are be created within the next few months.
To pay for the program, Barre proposed price increases on gasoline of up to 6 cents a gallon, quicker tax payments by banks and insurance companies and a longterm state loan.
Barre said a leftist victory next year would fling France into "an economic, political and social adventure."
"This is a policy of courage - there is no other way out," the rotund former economics professor told Parliament.
Giscard appointed Barre last August to succeed controversial Gaulist leader Jacques Chire and give him the mission of curbing inflation. Barre, in his first economic plan, clamped on a three-month price freeze that helped curb the double-digit inflation France has experienced since 1973. The rate now is 9 per cent. Since the freeze expired in January, Barre has been promising a second round of his austerity program.
Barring massive defections, the plan is certain to win parliamentary approval, because the governing coaltion holds a 300-190 majority in the Chamber of Deputies.