France fine-tunes business aid as COVID blank check ends

People queue for COVID-19 vaccinations outside the Stade de France stadium in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, April 7, 2021. (Photo: NYTimes)
(Photo: Jordan News)
PARIS — France will turn off the fire-hose of aid to help businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic, instead directing funds where most needed, the government's accounts chief said on Sunday.اضافة اعلان

"It's the end of whatever it takes", Minister for Public Accounts Olivier Dussopt warned.

The government wants to "look at what is really being lost, rather than just what is being said".

He added that not all industries or regions were suffering equally, and that even within some COVID-hit sectors, there were businesses that were thriving.

"We are ready to help the sectors that really need it," Dussopt told Radio J ahead of a meeting with leaders from industries still suffering from the pandemic, including tourism, small businesses and culture.

He said that any aid "will be a necessarily transitional, very sector-focused approach".

As an example, Dussopt cited the restaurant trade: "In some regions, the number of visitors is the same as before, it is even higher than in July and August 2020, which were months that were not affected."

Companies must also take responsibility for their own operations and for finding solutions to their problems, he said.

Instead of simply complaining about the difficulty they face hiring, he said, employers "have an interest in making the careers they offer more attractive" — by increasing salaries, for example.

The state had made great efforts, he said.

Moreover, economic growth is forecast at six percent this year, with the government hoping for four percent in 2022.

The minister said the government's deficit peaked at 9.2 percent in 2020 and would come in "below nine percent" for 2021.

That was "despite the cost of the crisis, despite the cost of the recovery plan", he said, adding "we can aim for a target of around five percent" in 2022, depending on actual growth.

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