PARIS Dec 20 French lawmakers gave their final
approval to the 2017 budget bill which would bring the public
deficit in line with EU limits for the first time in a decade.
Representatives in the lower house of parliament passed the
budget despite opposition from minority conservatives, who
considered the Socialist government's 1.5 percent growth
forecast to be unrealistic.
The budget would cut the public deficit to less than 3
percent of economic output for the first time since 2007, with a
target of 2.7 percent from an estimated 3.3 percent this year.
However, leading candidates in April's presidential
election, including poll favourite conservative Francois Fillon,
have indicated they would cut the deficit at a slower pace.
Lawmakers also backed an amendment that would increase
France's share tax to 0.3 percent from 0.2 percent to finance
international development and extended the tax to cover intraday
trading from 2018.
Conservatives and banks have warned that the move risks
harming Paris' appeal as an international financial centre as
the French capital seeks to attract banks leaving London.
The bill also included an amendment not supported by the
government that aims to force multinational groups to pay tax on
their French business that have so far managed to minimise their
French tax bills.
(Reporting by Emile Picy and Myriam Rivet; Writing by Leigh
Thomas; Editing by Alison Williams)