"Nothing justifies that they have such abundant cash," punched Bruno Le Maire. Recalling the figures from the Public Expenditure Review published yesterday for the first time, the Minister of Finance pointed to the 2.5 billion euros in cash surpluses of state operators. These public bodies, such as “Pôle emploi, CNRS, ADEME, water agencies” or even Météo France, were “very lucky”. Indeed, the twenty or so state bodies benefit from “assigned taxes, therefore security of revenue, and in addition to support from the recovery plan”, explained Bruno Le Maire at the microphone of France Info. Hence this “abundant cash flow” of 2.5 billion surpluses. A plump sum on which the Minister of Economy and Finance intends to get his hands.
From 2024, Bruno Le Maire therefore intends to “recover half” of the profits of state operators, i.e. 1.25 billion euros. Because "the principle of the 2024 budget is to accelerate the country's debt reduction" to finally drop below the 3% public deficit. "This requires initiating the reduction of public expenditure", explains the minister, boasting of a state budget "reduced by 4 billion euros compared to the previous year, for the first time in many years".
Time is urgent and Bruno Le Maire is aware of it. “All those who listen to us know perfectly well that too heavy a debt is a danger for the French nation”. Because "if you don't repay your debt, you are going to face serious problems: creditors will make you pay more for your debt tomorrow. And it is neither in the interest of households who want to borrow, nor of companies who want to invest,” adds the minister.
So all the way, Bercy tightens the screw. “These small billions [reprised from the operators, editor’s note] ultimately make it possible to reduce the debt burden and avoid wasting public money”. Urgent candle-end savings to reduce the debt load. Because such a “debt burden is also squandering public money”.
The debt burden is indeed the main item of government expenditure. Information passed under the radar, and timidly confirmed by the minister who would prefer to talk about it in the future. But in reality, the figures are already relevant. The latest Monthly Situation of the State published in the Official Journal clearly shows this. The financial commitments of the State reached 10.724 billion euros, "mainly under the program" debt burden and state cash "(10.724 billion euros). Far ahead of school education and its 6.316 billion euros (usually the first item of expenditure). Defense (5.219 billion euros) and territorial cohesion (4.195 billion euros) follow. In total, the net expenditure of the general budget of the State in May 2023 reached 191.043 billion euros, against 103.292 billion euros in net revenue.
In May 2022, net expenditure amounted to 176.019 billion euros. An evolution (€15.024 billion) which “results mainly from the increase in operating expenditure for €7.648 billion, State debt charges for €3.972 billion, personnel expenditure for €2.077 billion, and investment expenditure for €0.995 billion (difference mainly linked to the “Defence” mission)”.