French local government
France tells local governments to cut the fat
WHEN Claude Monet lived near the Seine at Argenteuil, he painted white canvas sails and river banks. Today, Argenteuil is part of the suburban sprawl west of Paris, and is more famous for being the most indebted large town in France. A recent report from the Cour des Comptes, the national audit body, told the town hall to take urgent measures to curb the deficit “in line with the gravity of the situation”.
克劳德·莫奈在阿让特伊的塞纳河附近时，画过白色帆船和塞纳河畔。如今，阿让特伊只是巴黎西郊无计划扩展地区中的一部分，并且更是因负债累累而臭名远扬。法国审计法院Courdes Comptes 已经命令当地市府大厅采取紧急措施，抑制财政赤字，要和“地球引力”方向保持一致。
Across the country, town halls are facing a budget squeeze. As part of its effort to control the national deficit, which this year is yet again set to bust the euro zone's 3% rule, President Franois Hollande's Socialist government has promised 50 billion of budget savings from 2015 to 2017. Of this, it says 11 billion will come from reduced transfers to local government. But persuading town halls to apply such cuts may prove the most difficult piece of the French deficit puzzle.
当前全国上下、各地市府大厅均面临财政紧缩的困境。为了有效控制国家财政赤字局面，实现欧元区规定的不超过3%的赤字目标，法国总统弗朗索瓦·奥朗德所在的社会主义政府已经承诺2015 年至2017 年削减财政支出500 亿英镑。而这500 亿英镑中，110 亿为中央政府对地方政府的拨款项削减额。但是，要说服当地政府接受这样的财政紧缩政策恐怕是实施财政紧缩政策项目过程中最棘手的部分吧。
Argenteuil is poorer than the average French town, and its unemployment rate is nearly 17%. The share of residents living in subsidised public housing, in the concrete towers that ring the town, is twice the national average. And like many French towns, Argenteuil's aspirations to first-class public services exceed its ability to finance them.
Overlooking the river, a vast new plate-glass building house the Argenteuil-Bezons Agglomeration, a new layer of local government created several years ago to run joint services with its neighbouring town. In the old town centre, near the freshly scrubbed medieval chapel, six gardeners in fluorescent-yellow jackets are planting out municipal flower beds. Up the road sits a smart glass-fronted cultural centre, complete with 500-seat theatre and two cinema screens.Outside, a line of toddlers, grasping each other's hands tight, totters along the pavement.Argenteuil has 20 crèches, catering to babies from the age of ten weeks. Older pre-school children are served a daily three-course lunch, graced by such dishes as poached fish and quinoa followed by a slice of Camembert.
俯瞰塞纳河，可以看到一幢雄伟的玻璃建筑—阿让特伊的巴黎式建筑群，该建筑为几年前新建，用于和邻居小镇合作办公。在这座古老的小镇中心，靠近刚翻新的中世纪教堂的地方，只见6 名穿荧光黄外套的园丁在忙着整理市镇府花园。沿着这条街道，还可以看见一座精美前面透明的文化中心楼，内设有500 张坐席和2 副电影屏幕。楼外，只见一列小孩儿，手拉手，正在蹒跚学步呢。阿让特伊设有20 家托儿所，专门服务于10 周岁大的婴儿。大些的学前小孩儿每天可享受一顿三菜的午餐，搭配丰盛有营养，如水煮鱼配藜麦，再加一片乳酪。
Locals consider such things to be the basic job of local government. But Argenteuil's debt already amounts to some 300m. Last year alone, the public-sector wage bill jumped by 8.5%, to 79m,according to the Cour des Comptes, and the deficit reached 17m. “It was insane, ” declares Georges Mothron, the Gaullist mayor, who defeated his Socialist predecessor in elections in March. In 2013, he says, the town hall hired 377 new staff. This included 40 new workers to staff 150 extra crèche places. The old team disputes the figures, and Philippe Doucet, the previous mayor, describes the spending as “investments in the future”.
当地居民都把这样的服务视为政府的基本职责。然而，阿让特伊的债务已高达3 亿英镑。法国审计法院称，仅去年一年，公共部门的工资开销就上涨至790 英镑，涨幅为8.5%，赤字额为1700 万英镑。曾于三月大选击败前任社会主义的戴高乐式市长Georges Mothron 说，“这简直是疯了。”。2013 年，他报道该地新雇佣员工377 名，而这370 名也包括40 名被分配在新添的150 处托儿工作的。前任政府人员对这些数字加以反驳，如前市长Philippe Doucet 发言说，“这是对未来的投资”。