Hollande defends 'serious' pre-election budget targets

France has repeatedly broken the EU's fiscal rules and a top independent watchdog has said it doubts Paris will reach its target next year either.

Hollande defends 'serious' pre-election budget targets

World Bulletin / News Desk

French President Francois Hollande defended his government's 2017 budget targets on Wednesday, seven months ahead of the next election, in the face of scepticism from experts.

Hollande said the Socialist government's aim to cut the deficit to 2.7 percent of GDP for 2017, the lowest in a decade and under the European Union's limit of 3.0 percent, was "credible and serious".

But Hollande insisted his government had made consistent progress towards hitting its deficit goal.

"A forecast can always be discussed, but until now, and for the last four budgets, we have kept to the commitments we have made," Hollande told a cabinet meeting hours before the draft budget was unveiled, according to the government's spokesman.

"So we will continue to defend both the perspectives for growth and the target we have set, which is credible and serious," Hollande added.

An independent watchdog, the High Council of Public Finances (HCFP), said this week it doubted that France could hit the 2.7 percent deficit target, which would be France's lowest in a decade.

Finance Minister Michel Sapin however joined Hollande in dismissing that suggestion, saying: "We will keep this commitment."

Hollande has yet to decide whether to seek re-election, but if he does, his economic record will be key.

The draft budget also maintained an ambitious growth forecast of 1.5 percent for 2017.

Growth of that size is instrumental for the government's tax and spending plans as well as to meet the public deficit commitment.

Last Mod: 28 Eylül 2016, 16:09
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