Wednesday, June 13, 2007

No such thing as un repas gratuit

France struggles to pay for its welfare state, and discovers the cold hard truth:

PARIS, June 13, 2007 (AFP) - A plan to switch the financing of health care from payroll charges to increased sales taxes to help businesses withstand competition has enlivened legislative elections in France with charges the poor will suffer.

....In France, all taxes and social charges account for 44.4 percent of gross domestic product, a figure considered high by international standards.

....In France, various social charges falling mainly on employers but also on employees to finance health care and other benefits almost double the cost of employing someone compared with net take-home pay. This calculation does not include income tax.

Not all of these charges relate to the financing of health care. But the overall social charges weighing on business are now widely recognised to be seriously handicapping French firms.

In particular they are seen as a factor behind what is known here as "delocalisation," the shifting of production from France to low-cost countries, a hot and and emotive issue.

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