The deficit would skyrocket to 5.6% of GDP in 2023, the opposition denounces “disastrous management”

France’s public deficit would skyrocket to 5.6% of GDP in 2023, according to recent Bercy forecasts updated on Thursday by the general rapporteur of the Senate Finance Commission, Jean-François Husson, who denounced “a disastrous management “. A deficit of 5.6% of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2023, before a new drop to 5.7% in 2024 and then to 5.9% in 2025… This is what Bercy forecast in recent weeks in a “technical forecast” whose content was reported in the afternoon by Senator LR after his visit to the ministry, in the form of a record.

These figures should be taken with “caution”, he agreed, because they date from February, before the announcement of savings of 10 billion euros by 2024 made by the Minister of Finance, Bruno Le Maire. But this deviation reveals “disastrous budgetary management by the Government, which today appears incapable of following the budgetary path that it itself had adopted,” added the opposition parliamentarian in a press conference.

Five days before the publication by the INSEE of the official public deficit figure for the year 2023, specially examined, it seems certain that the deficit will “significantly” exceed the 4.9% of GDP planned by the Government, as had been anticipated. . warned the Minister of Economy and Finance, Bruno Le Maire, at the beginning of March. In its financial programming, France has so far foreseen a deficit of 4.9% of GDP in 2023, 4.4% in 2024 and 3.7% in 2025… Far from the percentages that would circulate internally, according to the opposition.

March 28 meeting on public finances

In the afternoon, the rapporteur of the general budget exercised his powers of control over the Government’s action, initiating an audit “on the documents and on the spot”, the prerogative of Parliament’s permanent committees and investigative committees. “The results of this control are edifying, since the budgetary situation is, in fact, worse than we imagined,” he explained, calling for “a collective start to put France back on track.”

The Senate’s initiative comes a day after a meeting at the Elysée, where President Emmanuel Macron summoned several ministers and executives of the majority. “We must face a cyclical economic shock linked in particular to geopolitics. We assume and tell the truth to the French,” he told his hosts, according to one of them. The president’s entourage added on Thursday afternoon, stating that “they have always been concerned about controlling expenses.”

Furthermore, on March 28, the Government invited the presidents of the parliamentary groups, the presidents of the finance committees of both Assemblies and the budget rapporteurs to an information meeting on public finances, Patrick Kanner tells Le Parisien, president of the socialist group in the Senate. All this in the presence of the ministers Bruno Le Maire, Thomas Cazenave and Catherine Vautrin.

The government has already cut ten billion in state spending by decree until 2024. But with this departure, the executive should be forced to present an amending finance bill (PLFR) to Parliament, even if Emmanuel Macron seems to rule out this risky option . , while the presidential field only has a relative majority in the National Assembly and could be exposed to a vote of no confidence.

“Information retention”

Asked on Thursday in Brussels about the possibility of a PLFR, the head of state did not respond. “France must be clear: we must be responsible in terms of public finances and maintain our anchors,” he reaffirmed, however.

While the executive has already announced additional cuts of 20 billion euros by 2025, Bruno Le Maire and the Minister of Public Accounts, Thomas Cazenave, must bring together majority and opposition parliamentarians next week in Bercy to discuss to identify ways to save.

“I have the impression that this year we are in for a carpet of bombs in terms of the measures we will have to take,” admitted Jean-François Husson after his visit to Bercy. At the same time, he denounced the “concealment of information” by the government, which according to him already had a note in December evaluating the 2023 deficit at 5.2% of GDP, in the midst of the examination of the finance bill in Parliament. .

The president of the Finance Commission of the National Assembly, Éric Coquerel, rejects any reduction in public spending. The expected decrease in the deficit “is not due to an increase in spending, but to a fall in income,” said the deputy of La France insoumise (LFI) on social network X. “If we reduce public spending even further, this Economic activity and therefore tax revenues will contract even more,” he warned.

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