Multi-billion euro stimulus plan

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon unveiled a multi-billion-euro stimulus plan recently, targeting the transport and housing sectors...

French Prime Minister Francois Fillon unveiled a multi-billion-euro stimulus plan recently, targeting the transport and housing sectors, as well as research and heritage renovation work.

The French government is now under intense pressure to show how the project will perform and protect workers from the economic downturn. Many unions are demanding a back-up recovery plan to boost consumer spending by increasing pensions and salaries.

"I know that our country is gripped by doubt, by fears, by protests," Fillon told a press conference, as the economy ministry read out the latest statistics on jobs and growth."We are going to fund concrete projects that support business, create work for our companies, that protect jobs," he said, as he unveiled a list of 1,000 public works projects to benefit from state funds.Around 870 million euros will be invested in the transport network, 730 million euros into research and universities, 620 million on culture and heritage renovation work, and 1.1 billion euros used to build and renovate social housing.

Several billion more are spread across dozens of small-scale projects, from energy-efficient farming to boosting security in mental hospitals, with planned investments pulled forward to the period 2009-2010.

Sarkozy's office announced the president would defend his economic policies in a televised speech on Thursday 5 February 2009, as a new poll showed a majority of French people believe the government is on the wrong track.

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