France to cut 15,000 civil service jobs next year

13th June 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, June 12, 2006 (AFP) - The French government will cut 15,000 civil service posts next year and keep spending to one percentage point below the level of inflation, sources close to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday.

PARIS, June 12, 2006 (AFP) - The French government will cut 15,000 civil service posts next year and keep spending to one percentage point below the level of inflation, sources close to Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday.

The jobs reduction, almost triple one contained in the 2006 budget of 5,300 posts, represents "EUR 500 to 600 million in savings", an official at the prime minister's office said.

Half of that amount would be returned to the ministries concerned, he added after unveiling letters sent to each establishing spending ceilings contained in the 2007 budget, part of which is to be presented on Tuesday.

The spending limits were part of a move to modernise the state apparatus, the official said, adding: "It is a question of providing the same quality of service at a lower cost, the French will not feel the effects."

The French public deficit has repeatedly breached European Union limits and the EU Commission said early this month that it could happen again this year.

In economic forecasts unveiled on May 8, the commission voiced skepticism about France's commitments for reducing its chronic deficit.

"I would like the French government to take new measures without waiting for 2007" to bring the deficit into line, EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said at the time.

According to the plan presented on Monday, around 19,000 full-time posts are to be eliminated through natural attrition, and about 4,000 created among security forces and judicial services, and in research programs, parliament deputy Hervé Mariton told AFP.

The education ministry is to see a little more than 7,000 jobs cut, while the finance ministry is to lose a total of almost 3,000.

Around 4,400 cuts are slated at the defence ministry, though the national gendarmerie which is part of that ministry is to gain almost 1,400.

Meanwhile, government spending is to be kept to one percentage point below the level of inflation, which would be 0.8 percent at the present level of 1.8 percent.

"This is unprecedented in the history of French budgets," the ministry official said, while the government took pains to point out that programs proposed by the opposition Socialist party would increase the French debt.

Villepin's conservative government set a goal of bringing the public deficit to 2.5-2.6 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, and overall public debt to 64.6 percent of GDP at the end of this year.

Eurozone countries are supposed to maintain public deficits of no more than three percent of GDP and maximum overall debt of 60 percent.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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