"Déshabiller Pierre pour habiller Paul" is a very common expression in French, which applies in many situations whereby one satisfies a need by shuffling resources and thereby creating yet another need.
As it happens this is just one of many similar expressions used in various European Languages.
- English "Rob Peter to pay Paul".
- German "Peter rauben Paulus zu zahlen".
- Italian "Rubare a Pietro per dare a Paolo".
Could it be that the English expression is the origin of the German, Italian and French ones or are there all descendants of an older one in which case the explanation supplied by wiktionary should be interpreted as a localised version only?