Macron’s new govt wins assembly confidence vote

French President Emmanuel Macron’s new cabinet, headed by Prime Minister Jean Castex who presented the general policies over the coming two years to the National Assembly, has won with a large majority the confidence vote in the lower house of Parliament.

The government’s program received massive support — 345 approval and 177 against — at the lower house on Wednesday, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We have 600 days to protect the French, their jobs and their purchasing power in the face of the crisis, 600 days to reinvent our ways of doing things and put ecology at the heart of our action and our territories, 600 days to consolidate the authority of the state and preserve our social pact,” Castex told lawmakers.

Pledging to “slash taxes that hold back companies’ productive capacities”, he announced a 100-billion-euro ($114 billion) financial aid to help economy recover.

France has already pumped 460 billion euros into domestic businesses hard hit by the coronavirus epidemic

Under the new aid, 40 billion euros aim to support notably strategic manufacturing activities, 38 billion euros to preserve jobs, in addition to more than 20 billion euros investment to boost clean industries and encourage green technologies.

“It is up to us to reconcile the environmental transition with purchasing power,” Castex said, stressing that “fighting unemployment will be our absolute priority over the next 18 months” and “with a major focus on youth”.

Looking to unite the French, Castex pledged to restore trust of those who feel left behind via “dialogue listening and seeking compromise”.

He said he would meet all business and trade union leaders on Friday to discuss “a method and a timetable” for future reforms including the controversial pension overhaul.

Macron’s new cabinet is composed of 16 ministers and 15 deputy ministers.

Half of them are women, delivering the President’s promise on gender equality.

Macron, cornered by local election blow and opposition to his reforms, said earlier this month that he would ensure a new phase of his presidency with a refreshed cabinet to inject new life into his administration to meet economic, social and health challenges.

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