The Senate wants to shed light on the slippage in public accounts in 2023

The Senate wants to shed light on the slippage in public accounts in 2023
The Senate wants to shed light on the slippage in public accounts in 2023

Barthélémy Philippe / Credits: MAEVA DESTOMBES / HANS LUCAS / HANS LUCAS VIA AFP
07:00, May 16, 2024

On , the Economic Affairs Committee heard three economists as part of the information mission on the deterioration of public finances. The senators seek to understand how Bercy, which was counting on a return of the deficit to 4.9% of GDP, could have been so wrong and why did the government wait so long to correct the situation last February.

Bercy in the viewfinder. On Wednesday, the Economic Affairs Committee heard three independent economists as part of the fact-finding mission on the deterioration of public finances. The Senators would like to understand how Bercy, which was counting on a return of the deficit to 4.9% of GDP, could have been so wrong and why did the government wait so long to correct the situation by last February. Since 2022, Bercy has often defied economists’ forecasts on inflation, the unemployment rate or growth.

Last year, low tax revenues derailed the government’s deficit reduction scenario. Bruno Le Maire was aware of it on December 2 because his services had informed him. Despite this, the finance law for 2024 was still promulgated with the initial forecasts. No surprise for the economist François Ecalle, who worked at Bercy. “I rarely had the impression that successive governments took into account the forecasts of their own services. The minister could have announced that the deficit for 2023 would not be 4.9% of GDP, but 5.2% , 5.3%, 5.5% of GDP,” he told 1.

A new stability program

The new stability program sets the objective of a deficit at 2.9% of GDP in 2027. Which implies nearly 80 billion in savings, or even much more, according to economist Mathieu Plane: “We do not reaches 2.9 points of GDP if we make 80 billion savings which have no effect on growth. 80 billion savings, that’s about 80 billion less GDP, that’s 40 billion. less public revenue. So if you want to reach the objective, you have to double the stake: that’s 160 billion savings. That’s where you fall into a spiral.

For the moment, Bercy does not agree with this observation and remains convinced of being able to find savings which will not weigh on growth.

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