French PM says pension reform to keep retirement age of 62: paper

PARIS Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:06pm EDT

France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault delivers a speech before a vote of no confidence in the government brought by the opposition at the National Assembly in Paris March 20, 2013. REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

France's Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault delivers a speech before a vote of no confidence in the government brought by the opposition at the National Assembly in Paris March 20, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Benoit Tessier

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PARIS (Reuters) - A plan to reform France's state pension system will leave in place the official retirement age of 62, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault told a French newspaper.

"We won't touch the official retirement age," Ayrault said in an interview with Journal de Dimanche. "The main theme of our decisions is fairness."

France is under pressure to fix a short-term pension deficit which Ayrault said would swell to 20 billion euros ($25.68 billion) by 2020 if unaddressed.

Ayrault said the reform, which is risky for Socialist President Francois Hollande, who is sagging in opinion polls, would address "inequalities" resulting from different pension payouts depending on profession and length of employment.

Ayrault also defended Hollande's effort to resurrect a 75 percent super-tax on million-euro salaries by shifting the levy to companies from people, saying it would only hit big companies that pay chief executives generously.

"Indecent salaries are paid in the big corporate groups," he was quoted as saying, denying that athletes and performers could also be hit. "This issue will be included in our plans for a law addressing corporate governance and compensation."

The effort to shift the tax - one of Hollande's emblematic campaign pledges - to companies has sparked indignation in the French business community.

(Reporting By Christian Plumb and Patrick Vignal; Editing by Jason Webb)

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