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Minister insists France not 'totally bankrupt'

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Photo: Joel Saget/AFP
14:53 CET+01:00
France's finance chief Pierre Moscovici has launched a staunch defense of the country's economy after a minister in the French government described it as “totally bankrupt”.

Moscovici was responding to the comments made by Labour Minister Michel Sapin on France’s Radio J on Sunday, when he echoed former PM’s Francois Fillon’s famous declaration in 2007. Sapin also insisted the country had to reduce its gaping public deficit.

After Sapin’s comments sent minor shockwaves through the corridors of power Moscovici took on the job of trying to allay any fears.

“What he meant was that the financial situation is worrying,” said Moscovici in the Nouvel Observateur. “It was worrying in 2007 and it is even more worrying now because France has accumulated 600 billion euros of public debt.

“But the term ‘bankrupt’ is not totally appropriate because we have no need to close public services on a massive scale.

“France is a truly solvent and a credit worthy country which is on the road to recovery,” he added.

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Faced with an economy on the brink of recession and rising unemployment, President François Hollande is betting on a mixture of reforms and public investment to give a boost amid an uproar over proposed tax hikes, especially on the rich.

France's 2013 budget is based on meeting the EU public deficit limit of 3.0 percent of gross domestic product, as required by Brussels, but with growth expected to fall short of forecasts, many analysts doubt that this is now possible.

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