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'More tax' CEO says he has big business support

From Richard Quest, CNN
updated 7:00 AM EST, Fri January 27, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Maurice Levy says other CEOs support his calls for the rich to contribute more
  • The Publicis Group head signed a statement saying he would be willing to pay more in taxes
  • He believes trust is currently the major issue for the economy

Davos, Switzerland (CNN) -- Maurice Levy, head of the one of the world's largest communication firms, Publicis Group, insists he has the support of many fellow CEOs and investment bankers over his calls for the rich to contribute more.

"It's absolutely an abomination to see the poor people suffer more if the rich people are not contributing disproportionately more," Levy told CNN. "I'm willing to do that if and when governments take the right actions to fix the public deficits."

The 68-year-old was one of several of France's wealthiest people to sign a public statement last year saying they would be willing to pay more in taxes. "It was not only a champion on taxation," Levy explained. "It was a full set of measures by which I was saying we have to address the deficit, we have to address the debt levels and for that people will suffer."

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But Levy conceded that while many business leaders had supported him in private, they would not do so publicly.

Levy said he has some sympathy for political leaders in the current tough economic climate, many of whom he said have inherited the situation they find themselves in. "During (the last) 40 or 30 years we have been spending much more money than we could imagine having," Levy continued. "One day we will have to stop it and currently to stop that is very difficult."

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He believes trust is currently the major issue for the economy, with people across the continent worried about the future but not trusting their leaders to solve the situation. Levy said the business community wants European leaders to come to an agreement over ways to solve the problem of the euro and the debt level, and to address issues in Greece. "When these two clear signals (are) given, trust will come back," Levy said.

But despite this, Levy predicts there will be some pockets of good growth in the eurozone this year. "We were expecting to see a collapse of the business because of the euro crisis but the reality is slightly different," he explained. "It's not euphoria but it's reasonable growth."

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