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France’s lower credit rating not disastrous – finance minister

January 14, 2012, 2:00 UTC+3
"We will continue our work," Baroin said, adding that government did not intend to introduce a new austerity plan despite the change in the rating
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PARIS, January 14 (Itar-Tass) —— The lowering of the sovereign credit rating of France, which the international agency Standard&Poor's announced on Friday is not a catastrophe, the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry Francois Baroin said about the decision on national television.

“Standard and Poor's downgraded our rating by one notch. This is not good news, but not a disaster," Baroin said. According to him, even the rating AA+, awarded to France is a great mark.”

"We will continue our work," Baroin said, adding that government did not intend to introduce a new austerity plan despite the change in the rating.

At the same time the head of the financial-economic ministry said the rating agencies "should not dictate their policies to France."

Baroin was speaking immediately after an urgent meeting of the French leadership, which was held in the evening at the Elyse Palace under the chairmanship of President Nicolas Sarkozy. Taking part in were also Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Budget Minister Valerie Pecresse. No official statements after the meeting were made.

Earlier on Friday, a few hours before the meeting, Pecresse told the news channel BFM TV that despite the possible decisions by the rating agencies to revise the ratings the French economy remained reliable. "At present France is a robust economy, it can pay its debts, and the latest news regarding the budget deficit have proved better than expected," she said.

The S&P declared its readiness to lower the sovereign credit ratings of a number of EU countries in early December. Among the countries whose ratings might be revised it mentioned six states of the euro area, whose level of solvency had remained the highest so far: Germany, France, Austria, Netherlands, Finland and Luxembourg. The agency said its decision was due to the fact that the authorities of the European Union, despite all efforts, remained unable to cope with the debt crisis in Europe.

As it is expected, the head of the French Cabinet, Francois Fillon, will make an official statement on Saturday morning in connection with the latest decision by the rating agency.

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