The paths of the majority to green the 2023 budget

Posted Sep 19, 2022, 6:05 PMUpdated on Sep 19, 2022 at 6:06 PM

How to affix ecological markers to a budget that is sorely lacking in them? Less than a week before the presentation of the Finance Bill (PLF) for next year, the majority are beginning to reveal ways to green the text, in particular through a few emblematic taxes on business aviation or vacant dwellings or by bailing out the budget of the National Forestry Office (ONF).

This ecological question risks being problematic for the executive, at a time when Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne promised that the climate transition should irrigate the action of each ministry. This promise may not transpire much from the budget text presented on September 26, with for example a tariff shield on energy prices which ultimately amounts to subsidizing a fossil fuel such as gas.

Brown expenses

“The budget may not be very green, with even an increase in certain brown expenses”, recognizes a source at Bercy. What to degrade the green budget review - which lists and quantifies the planned expenditure according to their ecological impact - now presented in addition to the PLF for three years. It's a political problem, especially since the opposition on the left should compete with proposals on the subject.

The deputies of the majority have therefore begun to phosphorus with government officials to repaint certain public policies in green. “We must adopt an effective approach, which makes it possible to save money, but also which makes it possible to abolish subsidies or tax measures which finance polluting activities”, underlines the deputy (Renaissance) Daniel Labaronne, in charge of a task force on the issue of public spending.

A first track had emerged a few weeks ago, that of greening the Research Tax Credit (CIR). At the end of August, the Minister of the Economy, Bruno Le Maire, had seemed to open the door to this prospect , but it actually seems to have closed in recent days. “Technically and legally, it seems complicated”, sums up a member of the majority.

Conditioning the CIR to green criteria does not seem to go without saying for certain sectors, such as health - Sanofi is one of the first beneficiaries. And above all, some are worried about the implications of such a reform. “If you impose conditions on the CIR, you transform it into a state aid device. It would then be necessary to have the authorization of Brussels, which could call into question the whole of the device ”, alarms an employer source, not reassured by such a prospect.

Boost for the NFB

Other measures are however pushed to green the PLF, in particular by Jean-René Cazeneuve, the general rapporteur of the Budget at the National Assembly. “We are thinking about greening part of the conditions for allocating investment grants to local authorities (DSIL and DETR)”, explained the MP for Gers (Renaissance) on Monday during a meeting with the Association. economic and financial journalists (Ajef).

The parliamentarian also mentions a boost to the budget of the National Forestry Office (ONF), to which "we must give the significant resources it needs". It would be a minimum of maintaining the workforce, or even increasing the credits which have been on a downward slope for several years.

additional taxes

Finally, even if it cries out at every mention of a tax increase, the majority does not rule out playing on the tax lever to green the budget. To avoid soil artificialization Jean-René Cazeneuve evokes the track of an increase in the tax on vacant housing (to increase the yield from 50 million to 100 million) or that on bare land made constructible (which could feed a fund for the installation of young farmers).

Finally, the possibility of a tax on business aviation (by playing on the Chirac tax on passengers or the carbon tax on fuels) is also on the table, according to the general rapporteur. “We still have to decide which tracks, among all those mentioned, we want to follow as a priority this year”, specifies Jean-René Cazeneuve. Amendments could be tabled accordingly during parliamentary review.

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