France begins cuts in its own ministries as debt climbs | News | DW | 29.06.2012
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France begins cuts in its own ministries as debt climbs

France's prime minister has announced plans to reduce staff numbers in most government ministries by 2.5 percent per year over the next three years, as public debt soars to almost 90 percent of GDP.

The cuts in ministerial staff were unveiled as a plan to offset new President Francois Hollande's campaign promise to create 60,000 new posts in the country's education sector and 5,000 new staff members in the police force, the defense ministry and the justice system during his five-year term.

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said most government ministries would be subjected to 2.5 percent cuts in staff numbers year-on-year from 2013 through 2015.

"The creation of new jobs will be limited to education, the police, the defense ministry and the judiciary," Ayrault wrote in a communiqué.

The announcement came shortly before Friday's unveiling of new French figures for total public debt, which reached 89.3 percent of total annual economic output, or GDP.

The debt figure, 1.79 trillion euros ($2.25 trillion), equates to just over 27,000 euros for every person in France.

The recommended ceiling for government debt in the EU - though very few member states abide by the goalpost - is 60 percent of GDP.

Hollande campaigned on a platform of fostering growth rather than implementing cuts in his recent campaign against Nicolas Sarkozy, but he is also scrambling to keep France's annual deficit in line with EU targets. It is thought that the Socialist president needs to plug a gap of between 7 and 10 billion euros in order to meet France's 2012 deficit target of 4.5 percent of GDP.

By 2013, under the terms of the soon-to-be-ratified EU fiscal pact, the government's annual overspending must be reduced to 3 percent of GDP.

msh/ncy (AFP, Reuters)