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More French feel the pain as budget cuts loom

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More French feel the pain as budget cuts loom
Stuart Pilbrow
09:04 CET+01:00

Prime minister François Fillon will announce new cost-cutting measures on Monday as a new poll suggests more French people are already feeling the pain of the economic crisis.

A survey for the Sud Ouest newspaper published on Sunday found that just over two-thirds (68 percent) of those questioned said they are feeling the effects of the current economic slowdown.

Just under one-third (30 percent) said they were feeling the effects "a lot," a big increase on the 20 percent who gave the same answer when the survey was last conducted in September 2010.

More pain could be on the cards when the government spells out its plans for further budget tightening on Monday.

In a warning of what was to come, the prime minister said in a speech on Saturday that the new budget would be "one of the most rigorous since 1945."

Analysts expect savings of up to €8 billion ($11 billion) in an attempt to bring France's public deficit down to 4.5 percent of GDP from 5.7 percent this year. 

President Sarkozy is keen to protect France's AAA rating, which has been the focus of speculation in recent months. 

In October, ratings agency Moody's warned that the "deterioration in debt metrics and the potential for further liabilities" were "exerting pressure on the stable outlook" of the AAA rating.

The agency said the country would have to show "visible progress in achieving the targeted sustainability improvements" in its debt ratios. 

In an interview with Sunday's Journal du Dimanche, the Bank of France governor Christian Noyer said that France could preserve the coveted rating if it "breaks with the culture of deficits."

The prime minister is expected to announce the latest budget squeeze at midday on Monday and will appear on one of the main television evening news programmes at 8pm to explain the measures.

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