December 20, 2016 / 5:34 PM / 9 months ago

French lawmakers approve 2017 budget

PARIS, Dec 20 (Reuters) - French lawmakers gave their final approval to the 2017 budget bill which would bring the public deficit in line with EU limits for the first time in a decade.

Representatives in the lower house of parliament passed the budget despite opposition from minority conservatives, who considered the Socialist government’s 1.5 percent growth forecast to be unrealistic.

The budget would cut the public deficit to less than 3 percent of economic output for the first time since 2007, with a target of 2.7 percent from an estimated 3.3 percent this year.

However, leading candidates in April’s presidential election, including poll favourite conservative Francois Fillon, have indicated they would cut the deficit at a slower pace.

Lawmakers also backed an amendment that would increase France’s share tax to 0.3 percent from 0.2 percent to finance international development and extended the tax to cover intraday trading from 2018.

Conservatives and banks have warned that the move risks harming Paris’ appeal as an international financial centre as the French capital seeks to attract banks leaving London.

The bill also included an amendment not supported by the government that aims to force multinational groups to pay tax on their French business that have so far managed to minimise their French tax bills. (Reporting by Emile Picy and Myriam Rivet; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Alison Williams)

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