Sarkozy launches ministerial austerity drive

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Paris, June 30 (ANI): French president, Nicolas Sarkozy has insisted that his ministers tighten their belts, which means they will no longer enjoy taxpayer-funded Cuban cigars, private jets, or even luxury hotels.

According to The Guardian, Sarkozy has also cancelled his Elysie palace summer garden party, and added that everyone else must "make an effort" to tighten their professional belts.

Anxious to be seen wielding the austerity axe following a spate of scandals over official perks, not to mention a ballooning public deficit, he is demanding ministers' spending be "vigorously reduced".

Ministers have been told that their official visits will be "strictly curtailed" and they will be encouraged to take the train, not the plane, with a reduced retinue of advisers.

Away from home they must only stay in a hotel if there are no bedrooms available in state-owned buildings, such as embassies and consulates.he order came in a letter to Prime Minister Frangois Fillon, in which Sarkozy warned that those defying his austerity measures would face "punishment".

The president also declared he was doing away with 10,000 government vehicles and 7,000 official lodgings used by ministers, officials and state employees.

These do not include the presidential weekend retreat at Versailles or the state's seaside digs at Brigangon in Provence or the traditional summer residence, the Chateau de Rambouillet, in Nle-de-France.

Nor will Sarkozy be giving up his trips by plane, helicopter, or the specially adapted Airbus A330, recently acquired at a cost of 180 million Euro.

The presidential diktats have brought angry mutterings along the French corridors of power, especially over the "unpleasant" and "humiliating" tone of Sarkozy's letter. (ANI)

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