Bruno Le Maire wants to “reach out” to opposition parliamentarians concerned about public finances

The Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire indicated on Monday that he wanted to “reach out to all opposition parliamentarians who wish to restore public finances”.

Bruno Le Maire was speaking during the debate on the orientation of public finances in the National Assembly, while the government is facing the threat of a motion of censure, against a backdrop of slippage in public finances. “Come and participate in this restoration of our public finances and let us put aside once and for all the political quarrels, which are not in the interest of France,” he said.

In front of around fifty deputies, Bruno Le Maire said at the outset that he hoped that the debate would allow “to confront visions rather than postures”. I have “never seen so many parliamentarians concerned about the public debt and the balance of our finances, worried about the risk of downgrading our rating by the rating agencies and ultimately a little disappointed that the Fitch and Moody’s agencies have decided to maintain France’s rating” Friday evening, he said.

“No, the financing of our debt is not threatened, no the France of 2024 is not the Greece of 2010, let’s keep our sense of moderation and our composure,” added the minister. He said he was “surprised by this cohort of parliamentarians who always demanded more money in the past and always demand more savings now”, “in a conversion as sudden as it is doubtful”.

“Short memory”

He brandished a large red initialer, announcing that ten others were placed on the government benches, containing a total of “2,500 letters, all parties combined, demanding more public spending in all areas and almost accusing me of stinginess”.

Bruno Le Maire denounced those who have “short memories”, and have forgotten “the difficult times” of Covid or the inflationary crisis, where the State spent enormously to support the economy. Now, he continued, “we must be the majority which will bring the public deficit back below 3% of GDP in 2027”. According to him, the stability program which underpins this trajectory “must lead us to bring together all those who, beyond controversies, sincerely want to restore the nation’s public finances”.

He described the government’s roadmap as “clear, simple and coherent”, which “is based on three pillars”: “growth and full employment, structural reforms such as that of unemployment insurance and simplification for all SMEs, finally reduction of expenses when they do not provide the services they should provide.

Refusal to increase taxes

The minister also rejected the idea that the savings to be made would lead to austerity. “The level of French public spending will remain one of the highest of all developed countries in the years to come: we have a huge margin before falling into austerity,” he noted.

He repeated that the government “refuses to increase taxes”. “We are not considering changing our tax policy,” added Minister for Public Accounts Thomas Cazenave, while assuring that it could “allow exceptional situations to be taken into account, in a logic of shared efforts.” An allusion to the work currently carried out by four deputies on “rents”, the results of which will be published in the summer. In their sights are “energy companies and share buybacks”, specified Thomas Cazenave.

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