France 'posts 4.1 percent deficit' for 2003

1st March 2004, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, March 1 (AFDP) - France informed EU authorities in Brussels on Monday that it had a public deficit of 4.1 percent last year, a press report said here.

PARIS, March 1 (AFDP) - France informed EU authorities in Brussels on Monday that it had a public deficit of 4.1 percent last year, a press report said here.

The deficit, already in breach of a 3.0-percent ceiling, exceeded the government's latest target of 4.0 percent and would have been 4.2 percent if the EU had not forced a state-owned company to pay back tax, the La Tribune newspaper said.

The newspaper said that public spending had overshot the planned figure by EUR 3 billion (USD 3.75 billion) owing to overruns on state spending, and by social security and unemployment funds.

However, the extra spending had been met in part by a payment of back tax totalling EUR 1.2 billion by the state-owned electricity EDF, under pressure from the EU Commission.

The newspaper said it understood that a penalty imposed by the EU amounting to EUR 328 million would appear in the EDF's annual accounts on March 11.

Neither the French state nor the EDF was available for comment early on Monday.

The finance ministry had said at the end of January that there was a real risk that the public deficit would exceed the planned figure of 4.0 percent.

France, which is seriously in breach of EU rules limiting public deficits in eurozone countries to 3.0 percent of output, is trying to achieve this figure in 2005.

© AFP

                                                              Subject: France news

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