While deconfinement has just started and the economic indicators are red, the chairman (LR) of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly Eric Woerth is proposing an economic recovery plan. He reveals the main lines to the Parisian.
Bruno Le Maire wants to announce a plan to revive the economy in September. Is it too late?
First of all, confidence in France must be urgently restored without which there will be no lasting recovery. We must switch now from outright support for the economy to its recovery.
So should we end partial unemployment?
Partial unemployment is a good measure, but should not become the antechamber of social plans at the time of the recovery: it does not encourage companies to take back their employees or the latter to return to work. I propose to transform about half of the gigantic credits devoted today to partial unemployment in reduction of employers charges. It would cost around 10 billion euros per month. It would be the signal that France prefers work to unemployment. For young people and to avoid an unbearable drama of a “sacrificed generation”, I offer a “zero charge” device for two years for the first job.
Do you have no taboos for public authorities to directly assist businesses?
Thousands of VSEs and SMEs in difficulty must not only lend money, otherwise their balance sheet will be made up only of debts. I am proposing an unprecedented system of participation by public authorities, and in particular by regions, in the capital of companies in sectors which have to rebound. This would allow, for example, the state or a community to have shares in a restaurant. The public authorities could recover their equity in a few years, once the storm has passed: it can even be a good investment for them!
Shouldn’t we rather boost consumption?
This crisis is unique in that it has reached both supply and demand. An additional sixty billion euros have been saved by the French since its inception. A part must be spent quickly. For this, I propose to lower the VAT on certain products in sectors to be determined. I propose to take over, for the automobile, the scrappage scheme. And that stores can, for a given period, open Sundays very freely, whatever they are. In the same spirit, we must rethink the calendar of sales. Finally, one could imagine “reduction coupons” distributed by the state and local communities.
That is to say ?
As easy to use as restaurant tickets, these coupons would allow you to buy targeted products, made in France, in the sectors most affected by the crisis. This device could last a few months to encourage the French to consume.
How to redirect French savings towards the productive tool?
I suggest that we transfer the booklet A which finances social housing or the LDDS which finances sustainable development, by creating a booklet C, with an equivalent rate of remuneration. Objective: support investment and relocation in strategic sectors such as aeronautics, space, defense, robotization of SMEs, artificial intelligence, digital.
The tracks you advance are costly for the public authorities …
I point out to you that the Germans or the Americans do not put far away from 10% of their GDP in their recovery plans. Currently, France is only between 4 and 5%. The worst would be to do too little and to drop out in the long term.
Should we therefore review the European convergence criteria?
This crisis definitely marks the death certificate of Maastricht. The debt criterion of 60% of GDP is obviously totally out of step with reality as we approach 115%! To protect the euro, Europe needs to redefine the right criteria by distinguishing between spending which serves Europe’s common interests and that which serves national interests. For example, part of France’s defense spending, which protects Europe, could be excluded from the new criteria.