France would not deliver on its promise to bring the budget deficit to the rate mandate by the EU by 2015, and need further extra time to lower the gap to 3 percent, the country's Finance Minister Michel Sapin announced Wednesday.
"With growth and inflation weak, the deficit reduction we are planning for 2015 will be limited with a deficit around 4.3 percent of gross domestic product in 2015 and coming under the three percent threshold in 2017," Sapin said.
"We do not ask for any change in the European Union's rules (in budget limits), we do not ask neither for their suspension nor for any exception," he added.
Blaming wane economic activity in the single-currency bloc and weak inflation, the French minister estimated growth at 0.4 percent this year and hoped to accelerate the figure percent in 2015 to 1 percent.
"The situation has deteriorated. The French economy is slowing down and clearly will not reach the growth target of 1 percent (this year)," the minister noted.
"Less growth and less inflation means less revenue, and also less savings," he stressed, adding "monitoring public spending is a pillar of our policy."
As regards the whole year of 2014, Sapin announced the budget gap would stand at 4.4 percent, up by 0.6 percentage points from the government's previous forecast.
But the Socialists would stick to the pledge to save 21 billion euros (27.18 billion U.S. dollars) next year to rein in its ailing finances, according to the French minister.
In a fierce struggle to put the country's finances in order, French President Francois Hollande pressed for a 50-billion-euro package of savings by the end of his mandate, by freezing pensions and welfare benefits for a year and keeping most civil service pay frozen until 2017.
He also proposed a 30-billion-euro cut in payroll tax to encourage recruitment and investment, in a way to water down woes and reverse the rampant unemployment rate. (1 euro = 1.294 U.S. dollars)