After the world's third wealthiest man, Warren Buffet, launched a call for higher taxes on the super-rich, some prominent French multi-millionaires have followed suit.

"/> After the world's third wealthiest man, Warren Buffet, launched a call for higher taxes on the super-rich, some prominent French multi-millionaires have followed suit.

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French multi-millionaires offer to pay more taxes

After the world's third wealthiest man, Warren Buffet, launched a call for higher taxes on the super-rich, some prominent French multi-millionaires have followed suit.

Maurice Lévy
World Economic Forum

Pierre Bergé, the former boss of Yves Saint Laurent, and Maurice Lévy (pictured), the head of worldwide advertising group Publicis, have both spoken up in support of Buffet.

In an article published in the New York Times earlier this week and titled “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich”, Buffet wrote that his tax bill in 2010 was just 17 percent of his taxable income. This was lower than the average 36 percent paid by the people who work for him.

Buffet cited data to show that the tax rate on the top 400 wealthy Americans fell from 29.2 percent in 1992 to 21.5 percent in 2008. He called for higher tax rates on anyone earning more than $1 million, with even greater contributions from those making more than $10 million a year.

Interviewed by newspaper La Tribune, Pierre Bergé, a Socialist party supporter, backed the proposals. 

“I agree with Warren Buffet,” he said. “It’s abnormal, even immoral, that the richest people should have a lower burden than others. They should pay as much as everyone else.”

Bergé also said he agreed with fellow billionaire, advertising boss Maurice Lévy, who made a series of proposals to help France deal with its budget problems.

Writing in Le Monde on Wednesday, Lévy called for “an exceptional contribution of the most well-off” to help the country cut the deficit. 

A report by newspaper Libération on Thursday claims that while most French people on modest incomes pay a total of 45 percent in taxes, the wealthiest 500,000 get away with an average rate of just 35 percent.

France has a number of high-profile billionaires including Bernard Arnault, head of luxury goods company LVMH, L’Oréal heiresss Liliane Bettencourt and François Pinault, who heads up the PPR group.

Budget minister Valérie Pécresse yesterday told radio station Europe 1 that fairness would be at the heart of efforts to reduce the country’s swollen public finances.

“We have to make sure that the demands made on French people are fairly shared out,” she said. “This notion of justice and equality will be at the heart of the discussions we will have on the budget.”

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Man dies after nine-month heart op wait

A man from León in north-west Spain has died from a ruptured aorta after spending nine months on a hospital waiting list for an operation to treat the condition. His family are now planning to take local health authorities to court.

Man dies after nine-month heart op wait
Luis Canabal was not considered a top priority case by local health authorities in Castile and León. Photo: Fundación Fadei

"My brother died drowning in his own blood after waiting nine months for his operation," Laura Canabal told El País newspaper.

Canabal's brother Luis would have turned 49 on May 5th.

He died on February 21st, however, because of a complications directly related to his condition.

His sister has papers showing that her brother had been on waiting list for an operation to treat a heart aneurysm since May 10th 2012.

He was going to be operated on in January this year, but there were patients in a more serious condition, a spokesperson for the government of Castile and León told El Pais.

The family of the victim are now planning legal action the local health services. 

The health administration have already confirmed the operation dates offered by Laura's Canabal. 

But they said her brother was listed as a priority three case which means "patients with this condition can have their treatment delayed" without "serious consequences".

Waiting lists are based on these priority listings, said the spokesperson for the local health services.

Laura Canabal and her lawyers believe that, "given what happened", the priority accorded to her brother was not correct.

However, the medical case history is complicated.

Luis' case history shows his aorta had a maximum dilation of 58 millimetres when he died while reports from a health centre from May 9th last year show that the size as being 46 millimetres.

According to Gonzalo Barón Esquivias at Spain's Cardiology institute, operations on aneurysms are generally based on the size of the dilation.

Patients with an aorta dilation size of more than 45 millimetres are only operated on if a variety of other factors are present — including a patient age over 50 years.

This was not the case with Luis Canabal.

Laura Canabal isn't interested in these technicalities though.

“My brother spent nine months waiting for them (the doctors) to call," the dead man's sister told El País.

"He was a good man who left behind a wife and a son. He was very worried.

"He had already had health problems because he was a miner and had had to stop working," said the bereaved sister.