Most French believe France is ‘bankrupt’

More than six out of ten French people believe their country has gone bust, a survey revealed this week, suggesting the public have little faith their country's ailing economy can get back track any time soon.

Most French believe France is ‘bankrupt’
File Photo: Images_of_money/flickr

The poll was carried out in the wake of inflammatory comments made by government minister Michel Sapin who sent pulses racing among his colleagues when he described France as a “totally bankrupt” state.

Sapin said he was simply being ironic by echoing a famous declaration made by former Prime Minister François Fillon in 2007.

Although the Socialist government’s Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici quickly distanced himself from Sapin’s “inappropriate” comments, it appears a majority of French people agree with him.

According to the poll carried out on behalf of France’s BFMTV, 62 percent of French agree that the country is bankrupt.

The poll also revealed that a respondent’s point of view depended heavily on their political persuasion. The notion France was ‘bankrupt’ won more sympathy among supporters of the opposition (73%) where as 54% of left wing supporters thought it was unjustified.

Faced with an economy on the brink of recession and rising unemployment, President François Hollande is betting on a mixture of reforms and public investment to give a boost amid an uproar over proposed tax hikes, especially on the rich.

France's 2013 budget is based on meeting the EU public deficit limit of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product, as required by Brussels, but with growth expected to fall short of forecasts, many analysts doubt that this is now possible.

The poll was taken from an survey of around 1,000 people.

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Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France’s finance stamps

If you're doing a French admin task, you might be asked to provide a 'timbre fiscale' - here's what these are and how to get them.

Timbre fiscal: Everything you need to know about France's finance stamps

In France, you can buy  a very particular kind of stamp to cover the cost of a titre de séjour, or French passport, to pay your taxes, get an ID card if you’re eligible, or pay for your driving licence.

Basically a timbre fiscale is a way of paying a fee to the government, and some online processes – such as the tax offices – now have the more modern method of a bank transfer or card payment.

However there are plenty of official tasks that still demand a timbre fiscale.

In the pre-internet days, this was a way of sending money safely and securely to the government and involved an actual physical stamp – you bought stamps to the value of the money you owned, stuck them onto a card and posted them to government office.

They could be used for anything from paying your taxes to fees for administrative processes like getting a new passport or residency card.

These days the stamps are digital. You will receive, instead, either a pdf document with a QR code that can be scanned from a phone or tablet, or an SMS with a unique 16-digit figure. Both will be accepted by the agency you are dealing with.

Once you have the code you need, you can add this to any online process that requires timbre fiscaux (the plural) and that will complete your dossier.

You can buy them from a properly equipped tabac, at your nearest trésorerie, or online

Paper stamps remain available in France’s overseas départements, but have been gradually phased out in mainland France.