“Whatever it takes, it’s over. “Bruno Le Maire, the Minister of the Economy and Finance, made his return to the employers at the end of August. For its second budget since the outbreak of covid-19, the government can count on the economic recovery, and therefore the prospect of better tax revenues. Cautious in its growth forecasts for 2021 (6%), the executive expects 4% in 2022. The deficit would be reduced from 8.4% to 4.8% of GDP, and the debt would fall slightly, from 116% of GDP at 114% next year, according to its macroeconomic scenario.
The government presents to the Council of Ministers this Wednesday, September 22 the finance bill (PLF) for 2022, on the menu of parliamentary work this fall. The acrobatics promises to be of the highest caliber: Bruno Le Maire had promised that “part of the fruits of growth” should “go to reducing deficits and lowering the public debt”. And at the same time, it is about not jeopardizing the recovery, after several lockdowns that have strained public finances. On September 15, Pierre Moscovici, in his capacity as president of the Court of Auditors, called the government to order in an interview with Les Échos. “This period weighs on our public finances for a long time and has entailed long-lasting costs which are not all directly linked to the crisis. “
This budget also has a special flavor: it is the last budget before the presidential election, with demands to be met or promises to be kept. Already this summer, Bercy forecast nearly 11 billion in additional spending in 2022 for the various ministries. This was before a series of back-to-school announcements, which did not fail to react in the Senate.
This PLF is not yet fully tied up, however. Some expenses, which have not yet been announced by the head of state, are not yet included in the budget text. This is particularly the case with the investment plan, which could mobilize at least twenty billion euros over five years, to finance the development of a few handpicked sectors of the future. Commitment income, which will be aimed at young people in precarious situations, is always the subject of final arbitration. The device could cost up to two billion euros.
This unfinished budget was not to the liking of the High Council of Public Finances (HCFP), responsible for assessing the budgetary trajectory and in particular the fairness of the accounts. One of his preliminary opinions expressed a severity rarely seen since the 2017 budget, the last fiscal year of the previous five-year term. The president of the HCFP, Pierre Moscovici, refused last week to comment on the deficit to come and qualified, initially, the text of the government of “late”, “dated” and even “incomplete”, relates the daily L’Opinion. The former European Commissioner will also open the ball of budget hearings before the Senate Finance Committee on September 22 at the end of the morning. The senators will especially have the opportunity to question ministers Bruno Le Maire and Olivier Dussopt at the end of the day.
At the Palais du Luxembourg, one tastes little of the method of an incomplete PLF which is likely to evolve substantially in full parliamentary reading. “I feel like it’s a bit unheard of. I do not mind that the rules of budgetary orthodoxy were shattered with the pandemic, but I think a serious presentation is needed, “squeaks the general rapporteur of the Finance Committee, Jean-François Husson (LR). The maneuver is all the less appreciated as the Senate is seized of two texts from the National Assembly aimed at reforming the governance of public finances and controlling their trajectory more effectively. “It is a little contrary to the spirit which will soon come to the meeting on the modification of the LOLF (organic law relating to finance laws)”, is astonished the PS chairman of the finance committee, Claude Raynal.
From one group to another, the discomfort is palpable in the finance committee, even though the guidance income or the investment plan are shared objectives. “I regret that major expenses that will be incurred are not included in the bill. This casts a blur on the balance of this budget, ”notes Senator Bernard Delcros (Centrist Union).
The picture of the budget still lacks sharpness, but it is rather the succession of decisions since the summer that have caught the attention of the oppositions. Since the start of the new school year, the executive has stepped up its actions in all directions. To the plan of one and a half billion euros for Marseille was added a new budget extension of 500 million euros for the police (after the additional billion already promised in July) before a programming law of security, a revaluation of 100 euros gross next year for midwives, a plan for the self-employed. These are all subjects to which we must add free contraception for women up to 25 years of age or measures in favor of farmers, in particular the insurance component. With the surge in energy prices, the government has also had the opportunity to announce an additional boost to households eligible for the energy check (600 million euros), or the mobilization of two billion euros. euros in 2022 for the renewal of the MaPrimeRénov ‘scheme, aid for energy renovation. On Monday, the President of the Republic pledged the creation of a reparation fund for the harkis.
A frenzy of proposals that have not escaped his potential opponents on the right for the presidential election of 2022. Valérie Pécresse accuses him of “burning the cash”, when Xavier Bertrand castigates a President of the Republic who is “campaigning with the checkbook from France “. General rapporteur Jean-François Husson chooses different words but the picture is the same. “I see that we continue to spend all the time. The floodgates are wide open. The government’s bank card has gone crazy […] There is a kind of letting go which is quite worrying. “
On Monday evening, on the program Public Hearing, on parliamentary channels, the President of the Senate himself expressed his concern over the accumulation of deficits. “Whatever the cost, it will have to not be a way of life and that it does not become no matter what,” said Gérard Larcher. And to add: “I am afraid that we have entered an electoral campaign where we distribute a lot. “
Seven months before the presidential election, the senatorial right does not intend to shy away from making the budget question an angle of attack. On Thursday, all LR parliamentarians have an appointment in the Senate for a seminar entitled “The what it costs, how far? The day after the publication of the results of the major survey launched by the party to determine the best possible scenario for 2022, the financial question may help to narrow ranks.
The centrist Bernard Delcros, for his part, believes that the government does not have it easy, caught up in objectives that are difficult to reconcile. “Both we have to make a success of the investment, which involves reindustrialisation, and on the other hand, we cannot let public spending slip away. The balance is difficult to find and would be for all governments “, analyzes this vice-chairman of the finance committee.
Among the Socialists, this is one of the other aspects of the finance bill that is worrying. “We are surprised not to have recipes in front of us. This debate must take place, “exclaims Claude Raynal, who lists in particular the end of the housing tax on the wealthiest 20% and the continuation of the reduction in production taxes. “You can’t keep cutting revenue and replacing it with debt. The last budget debate of the quinquennium promises to be extremely political.
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