World Bulletin / News Desk
French President Francois Hollande could outline 20 billion euros ($26 billion) in tax hikes and may lower the country's growth forecast forecast for 2013 to a maximum of 1 percent when he speaks on national television on Sunday evening, a French newspaper said.
Weekly newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche said Hollande's government had finalised the "budgetary effort" required as France tries to hit its public deficit target of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) next year or risk losing investors' trust.
The budget will be presented at a Sept. 28 cabinet meeting, pushed back by two days to allow for Hollande's trip to the United Nations' General Assembly in New York and is expected to be the most austere budget in 30 years.
Hollande said last week that by holding state spending steady next year in nominal terms, excluding debt servicing and pension payments, his government would save 10 billion euros in inflation-adjusted terms.
However, that would amount to just one third of the more than 30 billion euros in savings which Hollande says are needed to hit next year's deficit target and stay on course to balance the budget by the end of his five-year mandate.
With his government refusing to cut staffing levels, the bulk of the adjustment will have to come from tax rises.
The increase in taxes would be "between 15 to 20 billion euros," the paper said citing an unidentified source. It added the rises would target firms, wealthy households and savings.
Hollande may also lower the 2013 growth forecast to a maximum of 1 percent if it is finalised ahead of the television interview at 8 p.m. (1800 GMT), the paper said.
The French government is sticking with its 2013 economic growth forecast of 1.2 percent for now but could still trim it in an upcoming budget bill given gloomier estimates by economists, the prime minister's office said on Sept. 5.
"I don't expect much tonight," Marine Le Pen, president of the far-right National Front, told reporters on Sunday. "When the plane crashes on take-off there's little chance of flying. This government crashed on take-off."
Four months into Francois Hollande's presidency, tumbling ratings, cabinet squabbles and talk of inertia have forced him to rethink a soft-touch leadership style that has raised doubts he has the clout to revive France's economy.
Having won the May election with 51.6 percent of the vote, Hollande's ratings have slid below 50 percent in less than half the time it took Sarkozy to fall from favour.
A BVA poll published for Le Parisien on Sunday suggested that almost 60 percent of French people are "relatively unhappy" with the president's start compared with 34 percent on May 31.
In an interview with Le Monde's weekend edition, Hollande defended his style, but admitted the government needed to step up a gear.
"I continue to believe that I was right to push for a period of consultation rather than an accumulation of good or bad decisions," he said. "(But) the urgency is such that it is necessary to accelerate."
Russia has overcome a "psychological barrier" and is ready to deepen its economic ties with China, Deputy Prime MinisterArkady Dvorkovich said
With Chancellor Angela Merkel's right-left coalition plus the opposition Greens, it was the biggest majority for any euro zone rescue package so far in the 631-seat chamber.
The agreement commits Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi to cooperate with the United States in customs issues, ease red tape at borders, reduce customs wait times and harmonize trade standards.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has unnerved China with his re-examination of certain projects that Chinahas invested in, including a $1.5 billion "port city" project in Colombo.
EU energy chief Maros Sefcovic invited Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak and his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Demchyshyn for talks
Gazprom and Ukrainian state energy firm Naftogaz have accused each other of not sticking to agreements on gas supplies.
The new canal, that will allow two-way traffic of larger ships, is supposed to increase revenues by 2023 to $13 billion.
A day after euro zone finance ministers agreed to a four-month extension of a financial rescue, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis gave a frank assessment of Greece's financial position.
The agreement is the culmination of talks that began in September after the government decided its own solutions to its fiscal crisis were failing to convince investors.
Energy union highlights bloc's attempt to seek independency from its main gas supplier - Russia.
Merkel's right-left coalition is set to prevail, despite vocal pockets of resistance on the right and left.
Republicans passed the bill to increase pressure on Obama to approve the pipeline, a move the president said would bypass a State Department process that will determine whether the project is in the U.S. national interest.
Turkish PM Davutoglu expresses Turkey's readiness to help in supplying energy to Central Europe.
General Atomics won a $200 million contract in 2013 from the United Arab Emirates for supply of an unspecified number of predator drones, the first such sale in the region
Gazprom said in a statement that Ukraine had 219 million cubic metres (mcm) of gas left that would be used up in two days.
Greece's reform list must be accepted by its EU creditors in order for the indebted country to receive bailout extension.