IMF’s Lagarde says French reforms on track, but more needed

International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde
PHOTO: Reuters

PARIS - France is on the right path with reforms the Socialist government has undertaken but needs to go farther, International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde said on Sunday.

Lagarde, who was finance minister in the government of conservative former president Nicholas Sarkozy, said France could not ease off reforms after passing a law this year to make the euro zone's second biggest economy more competitive. "I think (France) is on the right path, reforms have to be implemented courageously and quickly," Lagarde said in a wide-ranging interview on France 2 television.

Prime Minister Manuel Valls said last week his government would propose legislation next year to simplify France's labour laws, in what is likely to be the last big reform push before 2017 presidential elections.

Lagarde said the IMF was likely to estimate 2015 French growth at more than 1 per cent but less than 2 per cent when it updates its forecasts later this month.

She said that she was open to the idea of pursuing a second mandate to lead the IMF when her current term ends next July, but that she had not yet taken a decision about it.

Asked whether she was tempted to run for public office she answered "no" and when pressed whether she might run for president in 2017 she said "it's not at all a subject for me".

Lagarde often ranks as one of France's most popular political figures and a Harris Interactive poll published this week showed that half of French people consider that she would make a good president.