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Crunch time for new French PM as he makes first policy speech

Published on Apr 8, 2014 7:25 PM
 
France's Prime Minister Manuels Valls arrives for the first cabinet meeting of the new government at the Elysee Palace in Paris, April 4, 2014. France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls faces his first major challenge on Tuesday as he makes a highly-anticipated speech in parliament that will determine the future direction of the struggling country, followed by a vote of confidence. -- FILE PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (AFP) - France's new Prime Minister Manuel Valls faces his first major challenge on Tuesday as he makes a highly-anticipated speech in parliament that will determine the future direction of the struggling country, followed by a vote of confidence.

Mr Valls, appointed by President Francois Hollande last week after the ruling Socialists suffered a drubbing at local elections, has been tasked with boosting growth, creating sorely-needed jobs, cutting payroll taxes and slashing 50 billion euros (S$86 billion) from public spending.

His speech at 1300 GMT (9pm Singapore time), which is expected to lay out exactly how his reshuffled, streamlined government intends to face the challenge, comes as official data published early on Tuesday provided a faint glimmer of hope for the country.

The Bank of France said growth for the first quarter of the year would be 0.2 per cent - higher than the figure of 0.1 per cent expected by the INSEE statistics institute.

 
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