French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said the country’s economy is set to contract -8% this year, instead of -6% as mentioned just last week. Coronavirus lockdown was originally planned to end today, but was delayed to at least May 11.

To help the economy, Le Maire said the government expects to spend around EUR 25B on partial unemployment benefits. Total emergency spending could exceed EUR 100B if necessary. He added, “we have chosen to take on debt to save our economy: more debt for fewer bankruptcies”.

Separately, Budget Minister Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin said on France Info radio that the deficit will reach 9% of GDP in 2020, and public debt 115%.

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Staying in Europe, some activities including construction and manufacturing are allowed to resume today, as the death tolls peaked earlier in the month. But Health Minister Salvador Illa insisted that the country remains in lockdown as shops, bars and public spaces will stay closed until at least April 26. Shops in Austria are also reopening today.

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