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PAPEETE, Tahiti (Tahitipresse, Mar. 13) - France’s Council of Ministers in Paris on Wednesday passed proposed legislation aimed at implementing French President Jacques Chirac’s commitments to improving economic development in overseas French departments and territories.

French Overseas Minister Brigitte Girardin presented the legislation, which covers a 15-year period and has provisions linked to three main focal points—encouraging job creation, favoring a boosting of private investment and strengthening territorial continuity.

The bill’s objective concerning employment is to allow maritime economies to offer longer-term employment, particularly to young people.

Social security charges would be reduced for businesses subjected to constraints linked to distance, insularity and the presence of a regional environment where the cost of working is particularly low.

The government of French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin also hopes to boost private investment. Consequently, the proposed legislation provides for support for the hotel and housing sector, permitting both to better participate in the economic development of French overseas departments and territories.

The legislation also introduces more openness in the handling of administration dossiers and an increased decentralization in the approval process when necessary.

Girardin indicated that the proposed bill would strengthen the territorial continuity between the French overseas communities and France. The legislation is aimed at creating conditions for improved transportation, both in terms of capacity and cost. One proposal will involve an exemption from social security charges for airline, maritime and river transportation companies serving French overseas destinations.

Moreover, the legislation provides for a proposed lowering of the cost of airline travel in the form of an annual subsidy awarded to each overseas department and territory. That subsidy would mean each resident would receive a fixed assistance limited to one plane trip a year between the overseas department or territory and France.

March 17, 2003


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