No more bling: Hollande's self-imposed austerity
France socialist president, Francois Hollande, won plaudits for his financial prudence on Tuesday, after auditors found his government saved taxpayers nearly 6 million euros ($7.8 million) in 2012.
In a report published on July 15, the French Court of Auditors laid out how the President's money was spent last year, and what savings were made, after his election to power in May 2012.
The auditors found that nearly a sixth of the 6 million euros saved came from cuts to personnel costs, including cuts to Hollande's own salary. Indeed, one of Hollande's first action on election was to slash his, and the rest of his government officials', salaries by 30 percent. On a monthly basis, this meant that Hollande earned 6,000 euros ($7,800) less than his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy.
Another area to which Hollande made drastic cuts was on government-commissioned polls and electoral studies, which he ended completely following his election. In comparison, poll-addicted Sarkozy spent over 180,000 euros ($235,000) during the last 4 months of his presidency alone.
(Read more: Hollande One Year On: French-Bashing and 'Communism')
In addition, Hollande halved the presidential internet bill and cut the photography budget by 20 percent. For instance, the president ended the use of taxpayer funds to provide a website for the First Lady – under Sarkozy, the First Lady (then Carla Bruni) ran her own website, at a cost of 410,000 euros. ($535,000).
The Court of Auditors also praised Hollande's cuts to transport spending, which came from him opting for trains and cars over airplanes for short distances, such as trips to Brussels or Berlin.
More anecdotally, the report highlighted the savings made over the Christmas season, with Hollande purchasing a Christmas tree for 180,000 euros ($235,000), instead of the 310,000 euros ($405,000) splurged a year earlier.
However, the report did not give Francois Hollande straight As, and said that further efforts should be made to cut back the presidential car fleet. While Hollande has reduced the size of the fleet to 98 from 115, and introduced smaller, cheaper models, the auditors said the cost of insuring the cars was too high, and should be renegotiated.
The Court added that catering costs remained too high and suggested better stock-taking, a piece of advice on which the presidential palace appears to have already acted, auctioning 1,200 bottles of wine earlier this year.
(Read more: Elysee Palace Wines Fetch Nearly $1 Million)
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