Chirac sets tone for a sleaze-free frugal regime

FROM MARY DEJEVSKY

in Paris

President Jacques Chirac, in a drive to set a new tone for his government and dispel the aura of sleaze that attended the last years of the Mitterrand regime, has given his ministers clear instructions about cutting costs and reducing the trappings of power. The watchwords, he told the 42 members of the new government at their inaugural meeting on Saturday, were ``rigour, coherence, simplicity, efficiency''.

Promising to start from the top, Mr Chirac abolished the fleet of six planes and two helicopters on permanent stand-by for the use of the President and ministers. In future, ministers must charter an aircraft commercially or take a regular flight.

They will keep their cars and drivers, but may not use sirens or flashing lights to carve through traffic and will have to obey the highway code, including stopping at red lights. Mr Chirac's observance of this new standard on his way to the airport for his Strasbourg trip last week was widely approved by the French media.

Ministers have also been told that as public figures they should set an example by eschewing high living at public expense. (When Mr Chirac and his Prime Minister, Alain Juppe, lunched the menu was simple and there was a vase of flowers where the bottle of wine would have been.)

Mr Chirac is also to slash the number of public sector and university appointments in the gift of the President , and the personal staffs of ministers are to be restricted.

Existing curbs on ministers and public officials switching into lucrative directorships of public and private industry are to be tightened up and enforced. A requirement introduced by the former prime minister, Edouard Balladur, will remain: that any minister charged with a criminal offence must resign.

The measures announced by Mr Chirac, and endorsed by Mr Juppe, are an attempt to reduce the widespread contempt for the ``political classes'' - a phenomenon repeatedly observed by Mr Chirac during his election campaign - and to pave the way for probably painful cost-cutting measures to tackle the 300bn franc budget deficit.

The deficit, or rather the public spending causing it, is to be the subject of a comprehensive review. Tomorrow, Mr Juppe will outline his programme to combat unemployment, expected to include an increase in VAT, if not other tax increases.

However, Mr Chirac has failed to tackle the "accumulation of mandates" - a practice which seems to foster corruption, with individuals holding local, national and party posts concurrently. Mr Juppe is standing for election as mayor of Bordeaux and intends to stay as chairman of the RPR party.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Professional Sales Trainee - B2B

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: First things first - for the av...

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Manager

£40000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Compliance Manager is require...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Services Representative

£15500 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This international company deve...

Recruitment Genius: Field Service Engineer - Basingstoke / Reading Area

£16000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This established name in IT Ser...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue