Prospects for French economy are good for 2022 despite Omicron shadow

The spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus will not paralyse France's economy, Minister for Finance Bruno Le Maire has said. Instead, he forecast a growth rate of 4 percent for 2022.

He also said the government would extend access to aid for businesses suffering from Covid restrictions and loss of revenue.

"I am very confident for French growth," Le Maire told Le Figaro newspaper in an interview published on Tuesday.

He said the highly contagious Omicron variant is likely to have only a "slight" impact on the French economy, despite the daily rate of infections hovering around 200,000 per day since Christmas, creating disruption as workers filed sick leave.

Le Maire forecast a growth rate of 4 percent for 2022, above the 3.6 percent forecast by the Banque de France estimation on 19 December.

He added that growth had reached 6.7 percent in 2021, more than the 6.25 percent previously forecast.

The budget deficit for 2021 would be a "significantly lower 8 percent (GDP) than the 8.2 percent previously projected," due to an increase in fiscal revenue, Le Maire said.

Extension for loan payments

After meeting representatives from employers' organisations, and the tourism, hotel and restaurant industries on Monday, Le Maire said the government would extend access to aid for businesses suffering because of anti-coronavirus measures.

Companies will now be allowed to spread out the repayments of their state guaranteed loans (PGE) across 10 years, as opposed to six years, and push back their first payment until the end of 2022 instead of in March.

He estimated the number of companies in this situation to be "between 25 and 30,000 very small companies; often shop owners, tradespeople and restaurants," he told RTL radio on Tuesday.





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