French public debt to reach nearly 2 trillion euros: report

French public debt to reach nearly 2 trillion euros: report

PARIS - France's public debt was expected to climb to nearly two trillion euros ($2.7 trillion) by the end of 2014, or 95.1 per cent of GDP, far higher than previous government estimates, the Le Figaro daily reported Tuesday.

Previously, Paris had said the figure would stand at 94.3 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).

In response, French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said the country's public debt will reach "maximum" levels before coming back down.

At the end of 2012, the debt amounted to 90.2 per cent of GDP, and the new figure will be a rise of more than 120 billion euros over two years, according to the report.

Interviewed on France 2 television, Moscovici - who is due to officially unveil France's debt predictions next week - did not reject the new figure.

"Debt will reach a maximum (level) and then it will decrease", he admitted.

European Union rules require public debt to be no more than 60 per cent of GDP or falling towards this ratio.

But Moscovici insisted that despite this, France's credibility on the debt market was not under threat, saying the government was implementing reforms "that allow for the primary deficit to fall".

He said the primary deficit - which does not include interest payments on debt - was going to fall slightly in 2014 from this year's 1.7 per cent.

Meanwhile, France's overall public deficit in 2013 is due to come in at 4.1 per cent of GDP, higher than the 3.9 per cent agreed with the EU, and will come in at 3.6 per cent next year.

But Moscovici has vowed Paris will meet its 2015 EU-mandated deadline to bring the deficit below three per cent.

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