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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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Business

BMW, Daimler to invest 1b euros

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BERLIN: German auto giants BMW and Daimler said Friday they would invest one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in combining and extending their carsharing schemes, in future offering a slew of joint “mobility services”, including for electric cars.
“We are pooling the strength and expertise of 14 successful brands and investing more than one billion euros to establish a new player in the fast-growing market for urban mobility,” Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz maker Daimler said in a statement.

 

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Europe

Brexit: 9th MP leaves Labour in a week!

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Hitachi freezes British nuclear project

LONDON: The Labour party contingency of Britain’s parliament lost more blood Friday, with a ninth MP leaving Labour in less than a week, blasting alleged anti-Semitism in the party leadership.
Ian Austin, representing Dudley North in the West Midlands, chose the local paper Express and Star to make his announcement, in a guest op-ed slamming the party as “broken.” Citing the alleged anti-Semitism in the party, Austin said he was “appalled at the offense and distress [leader] Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party have caused to Jewish people.”
“I always tell them the truth and I could never ask local people to make Jeremy Corbyn prime minister,” he said. “It is terrible that a culture of extremism, antisemitism, and intolerance is driving out good MPs and decent people who have committed their life to mainstream politics,” he wrote. He said that he had not spoken to the new Independent Group, now made up of eight Labour MPs and three former Conservative MPs.
“The hard left is now in charge of the party, they’re going to get rid of lots of decent mainstream MPs and I just can’t see how it can return to the mainstream party that won elections and changed the country for the better,” Austin said. He added, “I think the Labour party is broken and clearly things have to change but that’s not what today is about, and I’ve not talked to them about that.”
A Labour spokesman said the party “regrets” Austin quitting, adding, “He was elected as a Labour MP and so the democratic thing is to resign his seat and let the people of Dudley decide who should represent them.” Earlier this week, amid the continuing chaos over Brexit, a group of seven MPs resigned from Labour and said they would stay in parliament as independent lawmakers, followed soon thereafter by an eighth. Three Conservative MPs also resigned their party this week to join the Independent Group.

 

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Economy

Months-long slide in German business

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FRANKFURT AM MAIN: Confidence among business leaders in Germany fell for the sixth month in a row in February, a closely-watched survey showed Friday, as global trade struggles cast a pall over Europe’s powerhouse economy.
The Munich-based Ifo institute’s business confidence index slid 0.8 points this month to reach 98.5, its lowest level in four years.
“The German economy is experiencing a downturn,” Ifo president Clemens Fuest said in a statement.
A sub-index measuring companies’ view of the present business situation dipped 1.1 points, to 103.4, while another gauging expectation for the coming months lost 0.5 points, to 93.8.
Looking to different areas of the economy, manufacturing firms had “far more pessimistic” expectations compared with January.
Services, trade and construction indexes also fell – with the building sector losing ground “for the first time in years,” Fuest noted.
Friday’s Ifo release comes one day after an account of the European Central Bank’s January meeting highlighted fierce headwinds in international trade weighing on the 19-nation eurozone.
With its export-oriented manufacturers and massive trade surplus, Germany is one of the countries most exposed to the uncertainty caused by rising protectionism and trade conflicts.
“The threat from the USA of punitive tariffs on our most important export good – cars – is hovering closer than ever,” noted Joerg Zeuner, chief economist at public investment bank KfW.
US President Donald Trump on Monday received a Department of Commerce report that sources said classed European car imports as a national security threat — potentially justifying swingeing new tariffs.
Meanwhile “our important partner Great Britain continues to race towards the Brexit cliff… and the global economy is no longer running smoothly,” Zeuner added.
Such fears have prompted downgrades to the growth outlook by private- and public-sector observers, with Germany’s economy ministry now forecasting just 1.0 percent expansion in 2019, compared with a 1.8 percent prediction last autumn.

 

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