French Prime Minister Jean Castex on Thursday unveiled a €100 billion ($118.3 billion) economic recovery package aimed primarily at creating new jobs and cushioning fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The absolute priority is employment,” said the prime minister at a news conference, vowing to create 160,000 new jobs.

“€100 billion is the amount necessary for us to fund in 2022 economic activity at par with the pre-coronavirus days. It is ambitious but within our reach.”

The recovery plan will have three pillars: the support of businesses, social and territorial cohesion, and ecological transition.

Castex added that this is the largest recovery plan put forth by any European country during the pandemic and an amount three times more than that put forth after the economic crisis of 2008.

An amount of €35 billion will be earmarked for small and medium businesses. The plan will not increase tax.

Another €35 billion will be put toward projects involving social and territorial cohesion.

Come out stronger

Also speaking at the news conference, Labor Minister Bruno Le Maire said: “France will come out stronger from this crisis, with a more competitive and more carbon-free economy.”

“We are going to get there, because we got there,” he said, highlighting the fact that unemployment prior to the crisis had been less than 8%, a level Le Maire is bent on reaching again.

An amount of €15 billion will be put toward generating employment, €7.6 billion of which will go to helping companies maintain employees and retrain them if necessary.

Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili said €1.2 billion will go toward the development of public transport. She added that over 30% of the monies put forth in the plan will be devoted to green measures, ensuring France is in complete compliance with the Paris Climate Accord.

Elisabeth Borne, minister of labor, employment and economic inclusion, said €1.2 billion will be put toward agricultural transition, €250 million of which will be used for developing better equipment to reduce the reliance on pesticides.

The announcement comes amid rising coronavirus cases.

A new high of 7,017 new cases was recorded over the last 24 hours, with the total standing at 293,024. 

The death toll has reached 30,686 with 26 new fatalities.

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