Bruno Le Maire: French COVID-19 measures have cost €450 billion

French government measures to prop up the economy during the coronavirus crisis have cost €450 billion, the equivalent of 20% of gross domestic product, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told BFM TV on Monday.

Since mid March, Reuters reports, the government has implemented a package of measures, including state-subsidised furloughs, state-guaranteed loans, tax deferrals and handouts to small businesses.

He added that state-guaranteed loans, for which a total €300 billion limit has been set, only had a direct impact on the budget if the borrower went bankrupt and the guarantee had to be used.

So far, the government has budgeted €110 billion, in direct crisis support for the economy, but is due to update that figure with a bill revising the 2020 budget on June 10th.

Among the most costly measures are the state-subsidised furloughs, which Le Maire said the government would make less generous for companies from the beginning of June.

During the crisis, the state has fully reimbursed firms for 70% of the gross wages paid to furloughed employees, but Le Maire said that the amount paid to companies would be gradually reduced.

Sectors hit particularly hard by the coronavirus outbreak are to benefit from specific support, with plans already produced for the tourism and automotive sectors with a third for aerospace expected before the revised budget bill in June according to Reuters.

Le Maire said that President Emmanuel Macron would announce “strong measures” for carmakers that would boost demand, but which would require them to re-locate some production in France in exchange.

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