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Home >> Business
UPDATED: 09:37, April 01, 2006
France foresees public deficit at 2.8 percent in 2006
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The French Finance Minister Thierry Breton announced Friday that the target for France's public deficit was set at 2.8 percent this year after hitting 4.2 percent in 2003 and 3.7 percent in 2004.

The French national statistics office reported earlier in the day that France's public deficit for 2005 stood at 2.87 percent of its output, beneath the ceiling of 3.0 percent set for the euro area by the Growth and Stability Pact.

Breton told a news conference that "after several years, France has returned to within the limits of the Treaty of Maastricht as it had undertaken to do."

France had been openly criticized by the European Commission for previously breaching the deficit ceiling.

"I am setting myself for this year a new target for the deficit of 2.8 percent, meaning extra progress from 2.9 percent which was still our objective" in the draft budget for 2006, he said.

The Growth and Stability Pact also stipulates a ceiling of 60 percent for the public debt for euro sector countries.

France's public debt had risen to 66.8 percent of output from 64.4 percent in 2004, with a 6.5-percent increase in 2005 after a 7.5-percent growth in 2004.

Insee's announcement of the data and the finance minister's remarks came before the French President, Jacques Chirac, was to make a televised national address regarding his final decision on the implementation of the controversial First Employment Contract (CPE), which has already sparked three weeks of strikes and protests.

France's Constitutional Council on Thursday constitutionalized the new job law, which is aiming at easing job-hunting for under 26 year-olds.

But opponents argued that the open-ended contract for under 26-year-old workers, which can be terminated without explanation in a two-year trial period, was a breach of hard-won labor rights and would make it more difficult than ever for young people to find long-term jobs.

More than half of the 84 universities and hundreds of high schools remained shut or in a state of turmoil.

Source: Xinhua

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