Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected all forms of terrorism and cracked down on violent Muslim militant groups Saturday while telling India it was time to talk, although his troops were ready for war.
PARIS -- Prime Minister Alain Juppe pledged on Wednesday the most far reaching reform of France's indebted welfare system for more than 30 years, combining tough spending curbs and a new tax to wipe out accumulated debts. ""The government will not be satisfied with a papering over the cracks again of social security, it wants a reform made to last,"" he told parliament to a standing ovation. Jupp? said the deficit of the social security system, which funds health, pensions and family allowances, would be cut from 64 billion francs ($12.6 billion) this year to 17 billion francs in 1996 and there would be a surplus in 1997. Financial markets greeted the steeper-than-expected deficit cut with a 2 percent surge in Paris share prices. French bonds rose sharply and the franc held steady against the mark. Economists praised the package, saying Juppe had opened the way for lower interest rates and a stronger franc by putting the emphasis on cost cutting and efficiency rather than tax hikes.
PARIS -- French Prime Minister Alain Juppe, determined to present himself as a champion of economic reform, is planning a major overhaul of the income-tax system and aims to cut the welfare deficit in half by next year. Officials stress that Jupp?'s decision to fire his free-marketeer finance minister Alain Madelin last Friday was based on differences of style rather than substance and that reforms will continue without him. A government source said Wednesday that reforms will include an overhaul of income tax, currently so riddled with deductions and allowances that less than half of French people actually pay it. He said the government would gradually scrap deductions -- for example mortgage tax relief and on life insurance -- to finance an across-the-board lowering of income tax rates. The government is also determined to brake ballooning spending on welfare. Juppe said in a television debate Tuesday that the size of France's social security deficits could not be tolerated.