March 25, 2020 / 10:51 AM / 14 days ago

French 2019 public deficit, debt lower than expected: INSEE

PARIS (Reuters) - France’s public deficit and debt were slightly lower last year than the government had expected, the INSEE official stats agency said on Wednesday, offering some relief among all the economic gloom around the coronavirus outbreak.

INSEE said that the public sector budget deficit amounted to 3.0% of gross domestic product last year, up from 2.3% in 2018 and slightly better than the 3.1% the government had forecast.

Meanwhile, gross public debt came in at 98.1% of GDP, unchanged from 2018 and less that the 98.8% the government had expected.

The outbreak has shattered the government’s hopes to improve the public finances and it warned last week the deficit was likely to baloon to 3.9% and debt would top 100% due to plunging growth and the cost of crisis measures to support the economy.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas, editing by Louise Heavens

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