Hard times ahead for France – minister

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Tough spending cuts are necessary to restore the financial system, Bruno Le Maire has warned

Restoring France’s financial system will require tough spending cuts, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday, as he warned the nation of hard times ahead.

Speaking in Paris, Le Maire said he is determined to straighten out the nation’s finances by reducing the country’s multi-trillion-euro debt and the budget deficit. The French government spent heavily to support households and businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the energy crisis which was triggered by EU sanctions on Russia.

“I remind you that we must find at least €12 billion in savings by 2025. So, let’s call a spade a spade: in terms of public finances, the hardest part is ahead of us,” said Le Maire.

The finance minister lamented “the difficult decisions” that the government has made and has yet to make. New proposals will be made in the coming weeks, he added, especially regarding revisions to public spending.

The country’s budget for 2024 has already been marked by spending cuts that mainly come from phasing out energy subsidies. The opposition criticized the document for austerity, although it provides for an increase in welfare payments and pensions.

In June, Le Maire said austerity “was not an option,” and that it would be “an economic and political mistake.”

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