PARIS (Reuters) - The French government will have to raise an extra 6 billion euros in taxes next year to make up for a shortfall in its finances, the budget minister said on Monday.
President Francois Hollande had said that he wants the government to focus on trimming back spending rather than raising new taxes after already hitting taxpayers with billions in new levies since coming to power last year.
But with the economy proving weaker than expected this year, the government is already seeking more wiggle room on its strained finance by asking the European Union for an extra year to meet its deficit-cutting targets.
Budget Minister Jerome Cahuzac said that the government faced a hole of up to 6 billion euros ($7.90 billion) in its 2014 budget because of exceptional, temporary taxes being raised this year that will not be there next year.
“France’s financial and budgetary situation unfortunately does not allow us to deprive ourselves of 6 billion euros,” Cahuzac said on Europe 1 radio.
Stressing that the new levies keep the overall tax burden stable rather than increase it, Cahuzac said that the government would decide who would be targeted with the extra taxes when it drafts the 2014 budget in the second half of the year.
Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici said on Friday he would ask France’s EU partners to grant Paris an extra year to cut its public deficit to 3 percent of economic output.
Hollande’s government had aimed to meet the target this year, but has had to give up on the objective because growth is proving weaker than expected.
Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by Mark John