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France's Hollande Pledges to Be Tough on Finance

CNBC
Monday, 16 Jan 2012 | 2:58 AM ET

French Socialist presidential hopeful Francois Hollande promised on Sunday to take tough measures to reduce the "dominance of finance", two days after France's top-notch triple-A credit rating was cut by agency Standard & Poor's.

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Hollande is due to speak later this month about his plans if elected president. Speaking during a visit to the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, he did not outline specific proposals.

But he promised his plans would be "tough on the dominance of finance, tough on growth policies, tough on new instruments such as the public investment bank, tough on tax so that we can make it serve production and serve justice."

In a reference to President Nicolas Sarkozy's previous determination to hold onto France's triple-A rating, Hollande said he had never set any goal relating to a ratings agency.

"I am not putting myself in the hands of the ratings agencies, what I want is that there are results," Hollande said. "It's the confidence of the French people that will enable us to put the country right and which will enable us to tell the markets that they can't impose their rules."

Sarkozy, who had long said that a credit downgrade would be a disaster for France, changed tack in recent weeks as a downgrade seemed more likely and said France could survive it.

Three months away from presidential elections, Sarkozy has turned his focus to growth, vowing to overhaul welfare financing, company labor charges and job flexibility.

He has unveiled plans for a so-called "Social VAT" to fund welfare from sales tax and a tax on financial transactions, and reduce levies on employers.

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