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France's deficit shrinks in 2011

France's public deficit shrank to 5.2 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2011, official statistics agency INSEE said on Friday. The 12-month drop from 7.1 per cent of GDP in 2010 is the biggest fall on record.


AFP - France beat its public deficit target for 2011 with a figure of 5.2 percent of output, official statistics institute INSEE said Friday, instead of the 5.7 percent forecast in the budget.

The deficit figure was confirmed by French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a radio interview. The state of France's public coffers has become a key issue in a presidential election campaign which is in its final weeks.

The deficit, which includes state and social services spending such as the public health system, was 7.1 percent of GDP in 2010 and the 12-month drop is the biggest fall on record.

This means "that the commitments I made, if the French give me their trust, to be at three percent in 2012 will be held and zero percent in 2016," Sarkozy told Europe 1 radio.

French public debt however continued to expand in 2011, hitting 85.8 percent of gross domestic product, higher than the 84.9 percent forecast, INSEE said.

EU nations are supposed to keep their public deficits at under 3.0 percent of GDP and their public debt at under 60 percent.

INSEE said in 2011 public spending slowed to 2.3 percent growth and tax revenue rose to 43.8 percent of GDP, up from 42.5 percent in 2010.

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