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Macron walks back on a pledge to end ‘exit tax’ on high earners

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PARIS: France will keep a less restrictive version of its “exit tax” on wealthy people who take assets out of the country, and not completely scrap it as President Emmanuel Macron pledged earlier this year.
The 30 percent levy was introduced by former president Nicolas Sarkozy to keep top earnings from leaving France for countries with lower tax rates.
But Macron said in May he would abolish the tax as part of a push to make the country more attractive to investors, which critics say has led to fiscal relief for the wealthiest along with other policies that make him the “president of the rich”.
“People are free to invest where they want. If you want to get married, you should not explain to your partner, ‘If you marry me, you will not be free to divorce,'” Macron told Forbes magazine.
A finance ministry spokesman confirmed to AFP on Saturday that the tax would be kept as part of the 2019 budget plan to be presented later this month, following a report by French financial daily Les Echos.
However, the tax will now be levied only if assets are sold within two years of a person’s leaving France, instead of 15 years currently.
It applies to people who have been in the country at least six years and have stocks or bonds worth more than 800,000 euros ($930,000), or who own at least 50 percent of a company that moved out of France.
The tax is “a bureaucratic headache for taxpayers” because they have to provide guarantees and file annual declarations for years after leaving the country, the ministry spokesman said.

Relevant piece: French President Emmanuel Macron was facing fresh criticism Sunday after telling an aspiring gardener that he could easily find a job if he would simply start looking in high-demand sectors like restaurants or construction.
In a video doing the rounds on social media, Macron is seen talking with the young man during a public open house at the Elysee Palace on Saturday, part of the country’s Heritage Days.
“I’m 25 years old, I send resumes and cover letters, they don’t lead to anything,” he tells the president.
“If you’re willing and motivated, in hotels, cafes, and restaurants, construction, there’s not a single place I go where they don’t say they’re looking for people. Not one – it’s true!” Macron replies.
He suggests going to the Montparnasse neighbourhood, an area chock full of cafes and restaurants, assuring him he would easily find work.
“If I crossed the street I’d find you one,” he says.
“So go ahead,” he adds, to which the man replies, “Understood, thank you” as they shake hands.
Industry officials say there are some 100,000 hotel and restaurant jobs that need filling in France, and have called on Macron to regularise more illegal immigrants to cover the shortage.
Yet critics quickly took to Twitter to deride the advice from the president, a former investment banker who has struggled to shake off a reputation as “president of the rich”.
“Completely disconnected from the reality of the French,” one user wrote. “How can someone show that much contempt, lack of empathy and ignorance in just 30 seconds?” asked another.
Christophe Castaner, the head of Macron’s Republic on the Move party, rejected accusations that Macron had “poorly treated the unemployed”.
“Is what the president said false? If you go to the Montparnasse area, you won’t find that they need workers?” he said in a television interview Sunday.
“You would prefer empty words?” he continued. “I prefer a president who says the truth.”
It was the not the first time Macron has found himself in hot water after appearing to dismiss the concerns of ordinary people while he pushes reforms aimed at shoring up economic growth.
He once called opponents to his reforms “slackers”, and criticised union protesters for “stirring up trouble” instead of finding new jobs.
His poll ratings have slumped to their lowest levels since his election in May 2017, as tax cuts intended to spur spending, mainly for companies and higher earners, have yet to bear much fruit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Europe

Macron’s popularity at record lows

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PARIS: The popularity of French President Emmanuel Macron has hit its lowest level since the start of his term, according to a major tracker poll published on Sunday, with just 29 percent of respondents satisfied with his leadership.
The poll by research group Ifop and published in the Journal du Dimanche showed an overall fall of five points in September compared with August, reflecting the 40-year-old’s battle with a series of domestic and foreign setbacks.
The results of the widely watched Ifop poll are broadly in line with other surveys that have shown the approval ratings of the centrist falling sharply following a scandal involving a security aide in July.
A separate poll by the Kantar Sofres Onepoint group published on September 17 showed that only 19 percent of French people had a positive view of Macron’s record, while another survey on September 11 showed only 29 percent thought he was a “good president.”  The results reinforce a longer-term trend of French voters turning quickly on their presidents soon after their election — something suffered by Macron’s predecessors Francois Hollande and Nicolas Sarkozy.
But many analysts also believe Macron has made a series of political errors, including failing to address the scandals over the summer quickly enough and repeatedly creating negative headlines with harsh or condescending remarks.
His leadership style was again questioned last week when he told an unemployed gardener that he should look for a job in a restaurant or on a building site and implied he was not searching hard enough.
Macron’s biggest challenge remains the economy, however, with his pro-business reforms failing so far to produce a significant fall in unemployment or a major uptick in growth. His government will unveil its draft budget for 2019 on Monday, which is set to see fresh efforts to rein in France’s chronic overspending via cuts to the public sector payroll and caps on pensions.
The survey by Ifop published on Sunday was conducted between September 14-22 on 1,964 people. Macron’s approval rating of 29 percent includes 3.0 percent of people who declared themselves “very satisfied” and 26 percent who said they were “mostly satisfied.”
Hollande had an inferior rating of 23 percent at the same time of his term and Sarkozy had a rating of 34 percent.

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Europe

British MP Barrister Imran Hussain visits Kashmir!

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As the Senior Vice-Chair of Parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Kashmir, a British member of Parliament Barrister Imran Hussain visited Kashmir as part of the APPG’s ongoing inquiry into human rights violations.

There he met the Prime Minister, President, Foreign Minister, Foreign Secretary, Governor and other senior ministers.

He visited the Line of Control, one of the most dangerous places in the world that has severed villages and families, as well as the refugee camps that house thousands of Kashmiri refugees who have fled persecution and violence.

He also met the representatives of a range of NGOs, women’s groups and refugee groups. He said from them he had heard truly chilling and horrific first-hand testimonies of the human rights abuses they have been subjected to at the hands of the Indian Armed Forces.

“It is vital that the plight of the Kashmiris and the human rights violations in the region are not ignored and allowed to continue by the international community, and following this visit I will be continuing to raise, as I have done throughout my time in Parliament, this issue at the highest levels of the UK Government,” maintained Imran Hussain.

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Europe

EU tells Facebook ‘patience at limit’ on consumer rules

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BRUSSELS: The EU warned social network Facebook on Thursday to bring “misleading” consumer terms in line with the bloc’s rules by the end of the year or risk financial penalties.
“My patience has reached its limit,” EU Justice and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Vera Jourova said in a statement. “It is now time for action and no more promises.”
Jourova said she would call on consumer protection authorities across the 28-country bloc, which requested the changes last year, to act swiftly and sanction the company if Facebook failed to comply.
“While Facebook assured me to finally adapt any remaining misleading terms of services by December, this has been ongoing for too long,” she said.
The commission said that proposals made by the Mark Zuckerberg-led company were “very limited”, even after the company changed its conditions in April.
These new terms of services “contain a misleading presentation of the main characteristics of Facebook’s services”, the Commission said.
The commission meanwhile said that rent-a-room giant Airbnb has made the necessary changes to its consumer terms after also being under fire in Brussels.
The bloc’s executive arm has been at the forefront of a regulatory crackdown on US tech giants, having also slammed Google with huge anti-trust fines.
The commission has been cracking down on what it sees as risks for European consumers using the services of US internet giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon, Uber, and others.
Facebook also came under the microscope after this year’s Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the company admitted that up to 87 million users may have had their data hijacked.

 

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