Dec 11, 2012 No Comments ›› Pat Dollard
Excerpted from The Telegraph: Jean-Marc Ayrault’s outburst came after France’s best-known actor, Gerard Dépardieu, took up legal residence in a small village just over the border in Belgium, alongside hundreds of other wealthy French nationals seeking lower taxes.
“Those who are seeking exile abroad are not those who are scared of becoming poor,” the prime minister declared after unveiling sweeping anti-poverty measures to help those hit by the economic crisis.
These individuals are leaving “because they want to get even richer,” he said. “We cannot fight poverty if those with the most, and sometimes with a lot, do not show solidarity and a bit of generosity,” he added.
“Thankfully, few are seeking exile to exempt themselves from being in solidarity with fellow Frenchmen.”
Announcing plans to spend up to 2.5 billion euros by 2017 to help the poor, Mr Ayrault said that poverty affected 12.9 percent of the population in 2002 and rose to 14.1 percent in 2010.
France’s Socialist President Francois Hollande, who famously once declared “I don’t like the rich”, has pledged to tax annual income of more than one million euros per year at 75 percent.
David Cameron controversially pledged to “roll out the red carpet” for any French residents trying to flee the massive tax hike.
Mr Hollande has since introduced other hefty new charges on capital gains and inheritance, while increasing France’s wealth tax and an exit tax for entrepreneurs selling their companies.
Last week, Britons and other owners of second homes in France were told that the value of their properties could collapse after Mr Hollande’s government announced a sharp rise in capital gains tax.
While Mr Ayrault opted not to mention Mr Depardieu yesterday, the Gallic star drew fierce criticism from Left-wing politicians and commentators.
Socialist MP Yann Galut called for the actor to be “stripped of his nationality” if he failed to pay his dues in his mother country, saying the law should be changed to enable such a punishment.
Benoît Hamon, the consumption minister, said the move amounted to giving France “the finger” and was “anti-patriotic”.
In a stinging editorial, Libération, the left-leaning daily, called him a “drunken, obese petit-bourgeois reactionary”. Le Monde mockingly exclaimed: “Bravo l’artiste!”, pointing out he had chosen to make his move “on the eve of a national conference on poverty”.
Jean-François Copé, chairman of former president Nicolas Sarkozy’s UMP party, yesterday said the actor’s departure was “terrible for our country and its image” and called on the Socialist government to introduce “progressive fiscal policies”.