France’s debt burden hits record in 2020 but comes in below govt expectations

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France posted a record public sector deficit and debt last year, but these came in below expectations after the economy contracted by less than foreseen in the government’s budget planning, official data showed on Friday.

The INSEE official stats agency said the public deficit swelled to 9.2% of gross domestic product (GDP), which was less than the 10.2% expected in the government’s budget plans, though still the biggest since 1949.

Meanwhile, gross public debt came in at 115.7% of GDP, which was also a record but less than 117.5% the government had expected.

The lower deficit and debt figures come as little surprise as France’s recession proved to be less severe than when the government’s budget planning was done. INSEE said last month that the economy shrank 8.2% last year, less than the 10% contraction the government had based its budget planning on.

The government, which currently expects the deficit to narrow this year to 6.7% of GDP and a debt burden of 116.2%, is due to update its 2021 public finance forecasts in April.


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