PARIS, May 31 (Xinhua) -- France's public deficit is expected to reach 9.4 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021 due to the costly measures to cushion the COVID-19 crisis impact on economic activities, Minister of Economy and Finance Bruno Le Maire announced on Monday.
"This deficit is the continuation of the effort that we have made to protect our economy," Le Maire said.
Since mid-March 2020, France, hard-hit by COVID-19, has implemented a package of measures, including state-subsidised furloughs, state-guaranteed loans, tax deferrals and handouts to small businesses.
The support measures have cost 450 billion euros (549 billion US dollars), representing 20 percent of the country's GDP.
Speaking on state-run France 2 television, Le Maire was upbeat about the prospects of the post-pandemic economic recovery, expecting a return to normal GDP level by 2022.
"The economic indicators are good," he said, expecting the eurozone's second leading economy to grow by five percent this year after an eight-percent contraction in 2020. (1 euro = 1.219 US dollars)