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France to raise 2024 deficit target to 5%-5.1% of GDP - Les Echos

Published 10/04/2024, 07:45
Updated 10/04/2024, 07:51
© Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint statement with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (not seen) in Paris before a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool

(Reuters) - France's finance ministry will raise its deficit target for 2024 to the equivalent of 5%-5.1% of GDP on Wednesday, up from an original target of 4.4% due to a rapid deterioration of state finances, financial daily Les Echos reported.

The newspaper said, without naming its sources, that President Emmanuel Macron and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire were at loggerheads over the issue, with Le Maire arguing for stronger budget cuts to bring state finances back on track.

The paper said the new target would require additional spending cuts worth 10 billion euros ($10.85 billion), on top of the 10 billion euros of spending cuts announced in February.

The finance ministry was not immediately available for comment. Paris is due to send a revised deficit reduction plan to Brussels in the next few days.

Les Echos, quoting unnamed government sources, said the government is considering a further freeze of government spending, a possible increase in the tax on energy companies' profits and the possibility of freezing some social security spending, notably on health insurance.

The paper reported that, officially, the objective of returning to below 3% in 2027 remains in place, even if most economists consider this unlikely.

Following decades of spending beyond its means, France must in coming weeks show how it will avoid a budget crunch that is putting its credit ratings at risk.

Statistics agency INSEE said on March 26 the deficit ended 2023 at 5.5% of GDP, overshooting the 4.9% target.

© Reuters. French President Emmanuel Macron attends a joint statement with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic (not seen) in Paris before a working dinner at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier/Pool

For 2025, France is targeting a 4.1% deficit, revised up from an earlier target of 3.7%, Les Echos reported.

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