Rich in lyrical flights, due to numerous meetings, the last weekend before the first round of the presidential election was also marked by the tenacious controversy over the government’s use of consulting firms – and in particular the American McKinsey , accused of tax evasion.
Place du Capitole in Toulouse, in front of 20,000 supporters, Jean-Luc Mélenchon castigated the head of state, who thus “brings the private sector into the state”. “Who can believe that a private company will give advice for the general interest? », questioned the tribune of La France insoumise. At the Cirque d’hiver in Paris, where she was also in a meeting, the socialist Anne Hidalgo saw in Emmanuel Macron a “man deciding alone… almost alone, with his McKinsey friends”. In front of his supporters in Pau, Jean Lassalle joked about a president “subscriber” to the services of the American cabinet, without naming him.
The leader of Les Républicains senators, Bruno Retailleau, denounced a “mix of genres between the private and then the public”. In the show “The Great Meeting” Europe 1 / CNews / Les Echos, the senator denounced the “disastrous management of the state” and the ” addiction “ to “foreign firms”. For the leader of the National Rally, Jordan Bardella, Emmanuel Macron has become “the nominee of private interests”in “hallucinating contradiction” with his speech “when he talks to us about French independence”. The far-right candidate Eric Zemmour accused on the same channel Emmanuel Macron of “elevator forwarding”, in reference to McKinsey executives who allegedly supported Mr. Macron for his first presidential campaign, in 2017.
Faced with continued criticism from the opposition, two ministers again justified the contracts with this company on Sunday. “We assume that the State has always used consulting firms since the beginning of the 2000s, said the Minister of Public Accounts, Olivier Dussopt, earlier in the day on Radio J. Valérie Pécresse implemented the university reform law with the support of consulting firms. On the right as on the left, they lead local authorities who have recourse to them. State expenditure on intellectual services represents 0.3% of the total salaries of State agents. Everywhere in Europe it is four times more. »
Her colleague in public transformation, Amélie de Montchalin, wished in The Express “separate what falls under the legitimate substantive debate” and “which is false information”and refused to let “to say that there was favoritism of such and such a company, because public procurement responds to very strict rules and numerous controls”. The leader of the deputies La République en Marche, Christophe Castaner, denounced, on RMC, a “political operation”.
“Suspicion of false testimony”
The Senate, dominated by the right-wing opposition, revealed on March 17, as part of a commission of inquiry, that the contracts concluded by the State with consulting firms such as McKinsey had “more than doubled” between 2018 and 2021, reaching a record amount of more than one billion euros in 2021. The senators have also taken legal action to “suspicion of false testimony” against a McKinsey executive who had asserted that his firm paid corporation tax (IS) in France, while the commission of inquiry noted that the French entities of McKinsey had not paid any IS for ten years.
“If there is evidence of manipulation, let it go to the criminal court”, had launched on March 27 Emmanuel Macron to those who reproach him for these numerous contracts. The candidate president had considered in particular that the non-payment of the IS by McKinsey was explained by the tax rules in force.