France initiates an effort to pacify the public amidst controversy over fraudulent welfare claims by immigrants.
French Finance Minister’s announcement of crackdown on welfare abuse by immigrants has provoked controversy amid ongoing pension reform battle.
This has cast doubt on President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to deliver on his promise to unify the nation in a hundred days.
Macron had given himself until July 14th to mend the broken rapport with French citizens. Tuesday saw a series of ministerial announcements outlining France’s minority government’s plans to regain the initiative and find allies in the parliament.
Tax fraud and welfare fraud were discussed, while Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin drew a line between RSA beneficiaries who make an effort and those who naturally deserve to be sanctioned.
His cabinet colleague, Bruno Le Maire, linked welfare fraud and immigration, stating that French citizens were rightly fed up with fraud and claimants that sent benefits money to North Africa or other places.
The left-wing opposition swiftly denounced the decision to single out immigrants for criticism, accusing the government of pandering to the right in a bid to divert attention from pension reforms.
Vincent Drezet, a spokesperson for NGO Attac, stated that welfare fraud amounts to 1-3 billion euros per year as compared to the 80-100 billion euros lost due to tax evasion.
The government’s focus on welfare fraud over tax evasion has resulted in a dwindling of resources to tackle the latter.
Macron’s reform plan for RSA, making it conditional on working 15-20 hours per week, received criticism from unions as “forced labor.
” The announcement of measures for battling tax evasion was overshadowed by Le Maire’s comments on immigrants abusing social security.
The strategy of associating welfare fraud with immigration has been criticised for summoning a well-known fantasy regarding immigrant abuse of the system.
The Grand National Debate proposed by Macron during the Yellow Vest crisis had proposed an annual debate on immigration in parliament.
The latest plan by Macron may have gone some way to winning Les Republicains lawmakers but may not appease those enraged by the government’s pension push.