UPDATE 1-France sticks to 2013 outlook despite EU view

Wed Nov 7, 2012 11:41am EST

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PARIS Nov 7 (Reuters) - French Labour Minister Michel Sapin said on Wednesday the government was confident its economic growth estimates were reliable, despite a gloomier outlook from the EU.

Sapin told Reuters in an interview that the European Commission had not factored in the boost to investment and jobs the French government hopes will result from a package of competitiveness measures unveiled this week.

"The government is right to base itself today on the estimates we have set," he said, after the commission forecast French 2013 growth at 0.4 percent versus the government's 0.8 percent forecast.

The French gov ernment announced on Tues day that it will grant companies 20 billion euros ($25.5 billion) i n annual tax credits pegged to payroll size, equating to a 6 percent drop in labour charges, to try and reverse a long industrial decline. [ID: L5E8M635F]

Sapin said the package of measures could boost France's GDP by 0.5 percentage points over the next few years.

"The principle of the competitiveness pact is to drive a bit more investment and a bit more employment," Sapin said.

He said the effect of the tax relief in enabling businesses to invest and hire staff would be immediate.

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