France to boost its GDP by including sales of illegal drugs

Grass Domestic Product: France has said that it will start including the money spent on illicit drugs when calculating its gross domestic product, a statistical shot in the arm for the country's economy.

France to boost its GDP by including sales of illegal drugs
Macron's France will get a GDP boost by including drug revenues. AFP

The Insee statistics agency said it was complying with a longstanding request from Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, which is working to harmonise GDP measures across the bloc.

Eurostat argued that the drug trade as well as prostitution reflected commercial transactions carried out freely, and should be integrated into a
country's national accounts.

The Netherlands, for example, already included revenues from the legal sale;of small amounts of marijuana, as well as from prostitution which was
legalised in 2000.

Several countries have applied the new rules following Eurostat's demand in 2013, including Spain, Britain and Italy — leading to upward revisions to GDP in each case.

But Ronan Mahieu, head of Insee's national accounts department, said drug revenues would only “marginally” boost France's current GDP of some 2.2 trillion euros ($2.7 trillion), to the tune of “a few billion euros”.

“It won't change the growth figure” for 2017, he added, which Insee said Tuesday reached 1.9 percent, France's fastest rate of growth in six years.

Revenues from drug use and “related activities” such as trafficking will be based on estimates from specialists which are considered sufficiently precise for inclusion in the metric.

But Insee has refused to include revenues from prostitution networks, judging it is not possible to ensure that sex workers are freely consenting to their acts.

“We are maintaining our position on this point,” Mahieu said.


French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test

France's Europe minister on Monday called for "total transparency" over speculation that one of Italy's victorious Eurovision contestants used cocaine during the song contest, saying it should be grounds for disqualification if confirmed.

French minister calls for Eurovision winner to be disqualified if singer fails drug test
France's entry, Barbara Pravi, said she didn't care whether Måneskin had used drugs or not. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

Damiano David, the outlandish vocalist for Italian rockers Måneskin, has agreed to take a drug test after video footage appeared to show him snorting something from a table backstage during Saturday’s contest.

“I think there needs to be no doubt here, and total transparency,” Europe Minister Clement Beaune, who attended the show in Rotterdam, told RMC radio. “If there is a problem, there are penalties… Provisions are made for sanctioning measures, including potential disqualification in case of problems.” 

French hopes had been riding high on singer Barbara Pravi, who was a bookmakers’ favourite to end France’s 44-year Eurovision drought with her
moody ballad “Voila.”

But she was edged out at the last minute by a surge in public votes for Måneskin, with a final tally of 524 to Pravi’s 499.

“I don’t want to be a sore loser,” Beaune said, but “in terms of image, we can’t let people think that such competitions can result in such behaviour.”

The president of France’s public broadcasting group, however, said Monday that France would not contest its second-place finish, no matter the speculation over David’s backstage antics.

“France has absolutely no intention to lodge an appeal,” France Televisions chief Delphine Ernotte told the Parisien newspaper. “The vote was quite clearly in Italy’s favour — it didn’t steal its
victory and that’s what matters,” she said.

Pravi herself said she was not interested in the speculation.

“What’s true is that they were chosen by both the public and the jury. Afterwards, if they use drugs or they put their underwear on backwards or whatever… it’s not my problem,” she told France 2 television on Sunday.