Notre-Dame: Why the Billion Euros of Donations is Controversial

Finance General News
Notre-Dame Cathedral, two days after the fire

Great fortunes have shown generosity for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame cathedral. But this momentum is annoying, as donations for the fight against poverty fall.

A dizzying influx of donations to rebuild Notre-Dame.  And voices denouncing a selective generosity. While “yellow vests” claim for months on the street a rise in their purchasing power and that aid to the poorest is down, nearly a billion euros was collected for the cathedral, which partially burned Monday 15th April, 2019.

This amount, and the speed with which it was reached, questioned, even annoyed, many people.

Read also: Fire of Notre-Dame de Paris: Emmanuel Macron wants to rebuild the cathedral in five years

“In one click, 200 million, 100 million, it also shows the inequalities, what we denounce regularly, the inequalities in this country,” criticised the general secretary of the CGT Philippe Martinez on Franceinfo.

And “the money to satisfy the social emergency”?

Large fortunes and groups have potted since Monday: the Pinault family has promised 100 million euros, followed by the LVMH group and Arnault family, first fortune of France, who announced a donation of 200 million, then the Bettencourt-Meyers family and L’Oréal group (200 million). Total has announced 100 million.

“If they are able to give tens of millions to rebuild Notre-Dame, let them stop telling us that there is no money to meet the social emergency,” insisted the union leader.

Ingrid Levavasseur, one of the figures of “yellow vests”, wished on BFMTV “that we come back to reality” and denounced “the inertia of large groups face social misery as they prove their ability to mobilise in one only night a crazy man for Notre-Dame. ”

“That the oligarchy gives for Notre-Dame is good. Tax exemplary would be even better. The good conscience does not hide the misery and the austerity “, denounced on Twitter Benjamin Cauchy, another yellow Vest, present on the list of Nicolas Dupont-Aignan (Standing France).

“Shabby” controversy

Conversely, the boss of the Medef, Geoffroy Roux de Bezieux found this polemic shabby. “Without donations, the state should pay 100% of the work,” he said on BFM .

The same goes for Stéphane Bern, head of the heritage mission, arguing that these donations will be used to maintain “500 000 jobs” dependent on the French architectural heritage:

“To oppose the old stones to men is ridiculous to the extent that they feed men. This gives employment!”

The generosity paid by the public money

In fact, the generosity of donors is partly paid for by public money , because the 2003 Aillagon law provides that companies that invest in culture can deduct 60% of their spending in favor of patronage (66% reduction in income tax for individuals).

This tax reduction can even reach 90% when it concerns the purchase of cultural goods considered as “national treasures” or presenting “a major interest for the national heritage”. The former Minister of Culture, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, who had proposed “in the excitement of the fire” to declare Notre-Dame “national treasure”, returned to his proposal Tuesday, “since the question of funding seems set.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced Wednesday a deduction of 75% up to 1000 euros (66% beyond) for donations by individuals for reconstruction.

“Shallot race”

Manon Aubry, head of the list of France unsubdued in the European elections, denounced a “race shallot company that would give the most while claiming tax exemption.”

Faced with the rising controversy, François-Henri Pinault, boss of the luxury group Kering, decided to give up this tax advantage.

Many voices point out that the generosity of generosity for Notre Dame comes at a time when anti-poverty associations are facing a decline in donations.

On Twitter, Catholic essayist Erwan Le Morhedec called on those who would judge their donation “derisory” against the runoff of money from companies on a cathedral still standing to “convert it to the benefit of the associations that look after the living temples and whose donations have collapsed. ”

Drop in donations

Senator EELV Esther Benbassa also tweeted dreaming of “such a spontaneous and massive momentum for associations and structures taking charge of extreme poverty, social exclusion, the homeless”.

“400 million for Notre-Dame, thank you Kering, Total and LVMH for your generosity: we are very attached to the place of funeral of Abbé Pierre,” tweeted the Abbé Pierre Foundation. “But we are also very attached to his fight. If you could add 1% for the underprivileged, we would be satisfied.

For the first time in a decade, donations to associations fell by 4.2% in 2018 , according to a survey by France Générosité with a panel of 22 charities. A drop largely attributed by the NGOs to the increase of the CSG which strongly affected the pensioners, traditionally generous, as well as to the suppression of the ISF, because the taxpayers were willing to reduce their tax bill.

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