The French government is not worried that the economy will be affected by the recent national strikes

The recent strikes in protest against plans to raise the retirement age in France are unlikely to affect the country’s economy, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg TV on Friday, as quoted by Reuters.  “I don’t think the strikes will have a really big impact on the French economy,” Le Maire said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, adding that the French economy was “fine.”  More than a million people marched in French cities on Thursday to denounce President Emmanuel Macron’s plans to raise the retirement age, amid a wave of nationwide strikes that blocked trains, shut down refineries, and reduced energy production.

Unions have called for a new day of nationwide protests on January 31, but the government shows no signs of giving up. “We strongly believe that this reform is a necessity for France.” “It is the best way to ensure more prosperity for the French people,” Le Maire said, although he added that the government would be “open-minded” about discussions on some changes. The pension reform plan would make most French people work two more years until the age of 64. The reform still needs to go through parliament, where Macron has lost his absolute majority but hopes to be passed with the support of the conservatives. French trade unions are warming up ahead of a national strike day on Thursday that they are hoping will bring the whole country to a standstill. On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters walked through the heart of Marseille carrying torches and posters to show their outright rejection of the government’s reform of the pension system. The plan, unveiled a week ago, delays the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64 by 2030 and eliminates most of the current special regimes. Speaking in the National Assembly, France’s prime minister insisted the country has no choice but to implement the proposals. “The number of working people compared to the number of pensioners is falling,” Elisabeth Borne told members. In 2005, there were two working people for every pensioner. There are 1.7 today, and there will be 1.5 tomorrow. “We must therefore restore the balance of our pension system.” The plan also proposes that, starting in 2027, people will have to have worked for at least 43 years to get a full pension. According to Ms. Borne, if the reforms are implemented, the system will be financially balanced by 2030. The left is totally opposed to the government’s initiative, which was included in the program on which President Emmanuel Macron was elected.

By Paul Bumman

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