File photo: AFP
PARIS, April 6 (Xinhua) -- French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire on Monday warned that France's growth would likely record its worst post-war downturn after the coronavirus epidemic has taken a toll on the country's economic activities.
Speaking at a hearing of the Senate's economic affairs committee, Le Maire said France was facing its major "economic shock" since the end of the World War II.
"The worst growth figure that has been made by France since 1945 was in 2009 after the financial crisis of 2008: it was at -2.2 percent," the minister said. "We will probably be at more than -2.2 percent this year."
The government had initially estimated that the economy would contract by 1 percent in 2020 due to the COVID-19 epidemic.
Working to mitigate the epidemic economic fallout, the French government was mobilizing 45 billion euros (48.63 billion U.S. dollars) to help companies stay afloat through the virus outbreak, consisting in large part of tax and payroll charge deferrals.
Among the other remedies, struggling domestic firms would benefit from state loans guarantees worth 300 billion euros, which could help banks reduce potential exposure to loan losses.
As for this year's deficit, the government forecast the public gap at 3.9 percent from previous estimate of 2.2 percent, while debt would top 100 percent due to negative growth and costly measures to cushion the coronavirus crisis' economic fallout. (1 euro =1.08 U.S. dollars)