- - Wednesday, July 4, 2012

PARIS — France's Socialist government hit big business and the rich with tax hikes Wednesday to ensure the country meets its 2017 balanced budget target as eurozone growth lags and Italy struggles.

The new government said it would raise $16.7 billion in extra taxes to meet commitments - and campaign promises - on cutting the public deficit and help ease the “crushing” burden of the debt.

The French cabinet approved $9.03 billion in tax rises and $1.89 billion in spending cuts this year, two days after an audit warned the government it had to find up to $53.9 billion just to meet targets through to 2013.

Next year, tax increases will bring in an extra $7.65 billion.

The cabinet levied more taxes on big business, oil companies, banks and high earners, balanced with the more modest spending cuts, after the government won a vote of confidence for its program in the national assembly Tuesday.

The plan is to cut the share of public spending from 56.2 percent of gross domestic product this year to 53.4 percent in 2017.


Monti: Italy does not need a bailout

ROME — Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti insisted Wednesday the country doesn’t need a European bailout because its public finances will improve but acknowledged work still needs to be done to cut government spending, boost economic growth and create jobs.

Mr. Monti spoke at a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel after meeting about Europe’s debt crisis. It was their first encounter since European leaders in Brussels last week agreed to use the continent’s bailout fund to funnel money directly to struggling banks and let countries following budget rules apply for financial aid without stringent conditions attached.

Mr. Monti, who had pressed for such a deal, insisted Italy didn’t need a bailout to help it pay its government debt because its budget deficit was low compared with many other European countries and forecast to improve.

As of the end of 2011, official European statistics put Italy’s deficit at 3.9 percent, just more than the EU limit of 3 percent. Spain’s, by contrast, was much higher at 8.5 percent.


British court: 2 Buds can coexist in Britain

PRAGUE — State-owned Czech brewery Budejovicky Budvar NP says a British court has rejected Anheuser-Busch’s request to have Budvar’s Budweiser trademark declared invalid, in the latest ruling in a long legal battle over the brand name.

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