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France discusses curtailment of CEDRE funds to Lebanon with IMF, World Bank

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(Xinhua/NAN) French authorities are discussing the curtailment of CEDRE funds to Lebanon from 11 billion U.S. dollars to 7 billion U.S. dollars with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

Al Joumhouria newspaper reported on Friday that Ammar Houri, advisor to Prime Minister Saad Hariri, said that such a measure has been discussed in the framework of an analysis for the current situation in Lebanon.

Houri emphasised that Lebanon needs to adopt the necessary reform measures pledged at CEDRE conference before asking the international community to fulfill its full promises.

Lebanon has pledged during CEDRE conference in 2018 to adopt certain reform measures in a bid to unlock 11 billion U.S. dollars in loans and donations to support its ailing economy.

However, the government has been incapable of taking serious measures so far which prompts various analysts and officials to express their fear about the fate of CEDRE.

While the government approved the 2019 state budget after 37 cabinet and parliamentary meetings, the cabinet is currently discussing the 2020 state budget with a great possibility of a delay in approving it within the required time limit. (Xinhua/NAN)

HLM/YEE

Edited by Hadiza Mohammed/Emmanuel Yashim

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Coronavirus epidemic “under control” in France: gov’t advisor

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The coronavirus epidemic is now “under control” in France, Jean-Francois Delfraissy, an immunologist and head of the scientific council that advises the French government on COVID-19, said on Friday.

“We can reasonably declare that the virus is under control. The virus is still circulating in certain regions notably in Ile-de-France and eastern France, but it’s circulating slowly,” Delfraissy told France Inter radio.

The immunologist noted that compared with the new single-day cases reported in March, it now shows “a significant decrease” in the virus circulation.

“Most importantly, we have all the tools to detect these new cases. We have the tests, … and a whole system of isolation to be able to trace the positive cases and to avoid the virus to spread again,” he added.

On Thursday, the council published a report in which it detailed four scenarios of future epidemic situation, with recommendation of measures to be activated in response.

The first scenario describes an “epidemic under control” as a result of nearly two-month lockdown.

“We think the first scenario, a controlled epidemic, is the most likely,” Delfraissy said.

Meanwhile, he warned that French people should not relax “too much” their efforts, recommending continued distancing measures, wearing mask in public transport and frequently wash their hands.

The other scenarios are based in terms of acceleration of virus spread and increasing of tension in hospitals. The second is “the appearance of critical clusters” in which the government should reinforce testing, quickly isolate cases and trace suspect ones.

The third scenario consists in a “progressive, quiet restart of the epidemic, which would be more difficult to control” and the fourth — the most severe — a “critical degradation” in the situation leading to a “loss of control on the epidemic,” which likely will force authorities to re-impose restrictive rules on people movement.

As of Thursday, France had registered 44 new daily deaths from COVID-19, bringing the toll to 29,065, while confirmed cases increased by 767 in one day. The number of hospitalized patients decreased by 413 to 13,101, including 1,163 in intensive care, down by 47.

(XINHUA)

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France denies harbouring Venezuelan opposition leader Guaido in Caracas

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France denied on Friday that Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido had taken refuge at any of its diplomatic sites in Caracas after the Venezuelan foreign minister said he was hiding in the French Embassy.

“Mr Juan Guaido is not at the French residence in Caracas.

“We have repeatedly confirmed this to the Venezuelan authorities,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll said in a statement.

A French diplomatic source clarified that Guaido was not in any French sites in the South American country.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza told Union Radio on Thursday that Guaido was in the French embassy and also accused Spain of harbouring Leopoldo Lopez, another opponent of the government.

“It is shameful for Spanish diplomacy. It is shameful for the diplomacy of France what has happened, and they will pay the price very, very soon,” Arreaza said.

France in May summoned Venezuela’s envoy over accusations that President Nicolas Maduro’s government had been harassing its embassy in Caracas, including by cutting water and electricity to the ambassador’s residence.

France is among dozens of countries that do not recognise Maduro’s disputed 2018 re-election and consider Guaido to be Venezuela’s rightful president.

Maduro has previously accused French Ambassador Romain Nadal of meddling in Venezuela’s internal affairs.

Von der Muhll, the French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, added: “Only a democratic path with free, transparent, and credible elections will enable it (political crisis) to be resolved in the long-term and put an end to the suffering of the Venezuelan people.”

Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)

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France’s public deficit to reach 11.4 pct of GDP in 2020: minister

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France‘s public deficit in 2020 will reach 11.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) due to the costly measures to cushion the health crisis’ impact on economic activities, Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin said on Thursday.

“We’re in debt, and more and more so, because we have chosen to save the French economy,” Darmanin told France 2 television. “With a projected 11 percent GDP contraction, we’re going to have a 11.4 percent budget deficit.”

The minister expected this year’s budget gap to reach 220 billion euros (246.44 billion U.S. dollars), adding that “France has never had such a level of budget deficit.”

France’s 2019 budget gap stood at 72.8 billion euros, amounting to 3 percent of GDP. The government previously expected this year’s budget gap to hit 9 percent of GDP.

“We have spent a lot of money to guarantee workers’ wages, support liberal profession and traders. We have updated the budget law three times in six months to improve French economy‘s ability to support (sectors hard hit by the coronavirus crisis),” said the minister.

The French government is mobilizing 450 billion euros, representing 20 percent of the country’s GDP, to help companies stay afloat through the virus outbreak, which consists in large part of tax and payroll charge deferrals, in addition to specific plans to rescue the worst-hit sectors, such as tourism and auto industry. (1 euro = 1.12 U.S. dollar)

(XINHUA)

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France’s COVID-19 deaths top 29,000

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France on Wednesday reported 81 new COVID-19 deaths, a slower increase over the 107 fatalities registered a day earlier, bringing the country’s toll from the coronavirus-caused disease to 29,021 since March 1.

The Health Ministry said in a statement that more than a third of the fatalities (10,350) occurred in retirement homes.

Figures released by the ministry showed that the number of patients hospitalized or admitted to intensive care units continued to decline.

Currently 13,514 people are hospitalized, 514 less than on Tuesday. The number of patients in intensive care decreased by 43 to 1,210, it added.

A total of 151,677 people have tested positive for the coronavirus to date, including 352 new infections confirmed in the last 24 hours. The number of patients who have recovered stood at 69,455, a single-day increase of 668.

France entered the second phase of easing the lockdown on Tuesday, allowing people to sip their drinks in cafes and bars, as well as enjoy meals in restaurants which were closed for nearly three months to stem the epidemic spread.

Museums, parks and beaches are able to receive visitors. Swimming pools, gyms, amusement parks and theaters in so-called “green” zones also reopened.

(XINHUA)

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Dozens arrested in France as protests over death of black Frenchman turn violent

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French riot police arrested 18 people who turned violent during an unauthorized demonstration overnight over the death of a black Frenchman in a 2016 police custody, local media reported on Wednesday.

Some 20,000 people demonstrated in front of the Paris Court near the ring road in the north of the capital on Tuesday evening, calling for justice for Adama Traore, who died in police custody in 2016 after he was arrested for a dispute over an identity check.

Violence erupted when some demonstrators hurled projectiles, set on fire rubbish bins and vandalized properties while police fired tear gas to disperse the crowd.

Of those detained on charges of damaging public and private properties and carrying prohibited weapons, 17 remained in police custody, Le Figaro newspaper reported.

Rallies against police violence were also staged in other French cities, where 7 others were arrested and 10 policemen were slightly injured, the report added.

On Tuesday morning, Paris police announced that the demonstration was not authorized, as public gatherings of more than 10 people are prohibited due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The protest came after a new probe, commissioned by Adama Traore‘s family, said the young man died of asphyxiation due to the arrest technique police officers had used during the operation.

State investigators had dismissed the charge of police brutality in the arrest of Traore, saying that the man died of heart failure due to pre-existing medical conditions.

(XINHUA)

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France sticks with digital tax despite United States tariff threat

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France will maintain its planned tax on digital services at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) level despite Washington’s threat of punitive tariffs, Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire said on Wednesday.

“We will give no ground on digital tax. I call on all G7 (Group of Seven) states to step up work at the OECD to reach an international solution by the end of 2020,” said Le Maire during a G7 finance ministers’ conference call.

“There is a real contradiction between the United States‘ call for unity within G7, which we support, and the perspective of new trade sanctions,” he said.

United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced on Tuesday a “Section 301” investigation into digital services taxes that have been adopted or are considered by the U.S.’s ten trading partners (Austria, Brazil, the Czech Republic, the European Union, India, Indonesia, Italy, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom).

“Section 301,” under an outdated U.S. trade law adopted in 1974, allows the U.S. president to unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions on foreign countries.

Last July, the French parliament adopted a digital tax bill, paving the way for the eurozone’s second largest power to unilaterally tax internet giants by three percent on much of their digital sales in France.

Washington has completed a “Section 301” probe into France‘s digital tax regime and threatened to impose tariffs of up to 100 percent on 2.4 billion U.S. dollars worth of French goods in retaliation for the tax that it deemed discriminatory.

It agreed to delay the imposition of tariffs on France as a multilateral deal on international taxation was under negotiation at the OECD.

(XINHUA)

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Students return to schools in France

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FRANCE-NICE-SCHOOL-RETURN” src=”http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2020-06/03/139111398_15911846658301n.jpg” sourcename=”本地文件” sourcedescription=”网上抓取的文件”>

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A student works at Eucalyptus technical high school in Nice, southern France, on June 2, 2020. Students are returning to schools in France during the second phase of de-confinement in the country. (Photo by Serge Haouzi/Xinhua)

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France further unwinds anti-coronavirus lockdown from June 2

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People wearing protective face shields have coffee at Cafe de Flore in Paris, France, June 2, 2020. France further unwound anti-coronavirus lockdown from June 2, 2020. Restaurants, cafes and bars in low risk areas are able to receive customers, providing they respect health protocol and social distancing. In Great Paris region, classified as “orange” zone, they can only open outside spaces to avoid a resurgence of the epidemic. (Xinhua/Gao Jing)

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France reports 107 new single-day deaths from COVID-19

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With 107 COVID-19 deaths reported in the last 24 hours, France‘s total death toll from the coronavirus-caused disease rose to 28,940 on Tuesday, official figures showed.

Among the deaths, 18,590 were reported in hospitals, 84 more than the day before, 10,350 were reported at nursing homes and medico-social establishments since March 1, said the Health Ministry in a statement.

Currently, 14,028 patients are still in hospitals, including 1,253 in intensive care. The two figures, key indicators to evaluate the country’s ability to cope with the epidemic, fell by 260 and 49 respectively in the last 24 hours.

Of the 101,932 hospitalized since early March, 68,812 were declared recovered and returned home, said the ministry.

The number of confirmed cases increased by 766 in one day to 151,325, it added.

On Tuesday, restaurants, bars and cafes throughout France reopened their doors to customers. Museums, parks and schools are all allowed to reopen now. Swimming pools, gyms, amusement parks and theaters in so-called “green” zones also reopened.

Unlimited travel is now permitted between the country’s regions, and people can once again enjoy the sun and the sea as the beaches have also reopened.

France has entered the second phase of deconfinement…French people find some of their daily habits again. This good news should not make us forget that the virus remains active,” warned the ministry.

(XINHUA)

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