In a move to show France’s government is feeling the sting of austerity measures just as much as its citizens, President Nicolas Sarkozy has eliminated taxpayer-funded Cuban cigars, private jets, luxury hotels and presidential hunts. Sarkozy even spiked his own summer party at the Elysée. Over three years, 10,000 official cars and 7,000 official flats will be cut as ministers are encouraged to take public transportation. The belt-tightening comes in response to several political spending scandals, including secretary of state for Greater Paris spending 12,000 euros, or roughly $14,000, from taxpayer funds on Cuban cigars. (He has to pay taxpayers back.) And the state secretary for overseas development was revealed to have splurged on a private jet to a meeting in Martinique—costing 116,500 euros. Now ministerial jet use must get the prime minister’s sign off. Though the measures are great symbolism, economists say they’ll have virtually no effect on France’s budget problems.
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