France is ‘sick’, Economy minister says

France is ‘sick’, Economy minister says

Wed Sep 17, 2014 11:51AM GMT

France’s newly appointed Economy Minister, Emmanuel Macron, has said the country is “sick,” urging immediate reforms to tackle record high unemployment rates, ballooning public deficit and a stagnant economy.

Macron made the comments during an interview with French radio on Wednesday.

“France is sick. It’s not well. We have to describe the situation as it is,” said Macron adding, “There has been a fever for several years in this country which is called mass unemployment … . There is no choice but to reform the economy.”

Eurozone’s second-largest economy is struggling with an unemployment rate of over 10 percent and its economy has failed to grow in the past two quarters.

Furthermore, France also strives to reduce its public deficit, which is expected this year to be 4.4 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) and will only fall slightly next year to 4.3 percent in 2015.

The percentage is far above the threshold of three percent demanded by the European Union. France said last week it predicts that the deficit will not come under the threshold until 2017.

France is not only experiencing an economic crisis but also a political one. The latter has seen President Francois Hollande hit record lows in opinion poll. The latest Ipsos survey put Hollande’s popularity at a mere 13 percent.

Hollande’s government plans to cut the country’s budget by 21 billion euros (USD 27 billion) next year and another 50 billion euros (USD 64 billion) by 2017.

France’s austerity measures have put its citizens under more financial pressure than ever. Sales taxes and retirement taxes have been raised, while massive cuts to social services have forced households to dip into their own pocket to cover for the government’s absence.

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