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Paris, 9 September 2021
On 15 September at 9:00 a.m., the Committee on Finance, the General Economy and
Budgetary Audit, chaired by
Mr Éric Woerth
, will question Mr Pierre Moscovici, First President
of the Court of Accounts, on the audit report requested of the Court, pursuant to Article 58
(2) of the by-law relating to finance acts,
on public spending during the Covid-19 crisis and
the operational report of their use
The Covid-19 crisis and its economic and social consequences led to a sharp increase
in public spending, which accounted for 61.8% of GDP in 2020, compared to 55.4% in 2019. At
the request of the Finance Committee of the National Assembly, the Court analysed trends in
public spending, whether related to the health crisis or not. According to the calculation
methods used by the Court, the increase in public spending
amounted to €96.4 billion, or
+6.5%, with spending related to the crisis accounting for 86% of this increase. Ordinary
expenditure, unrelated to the crisis, accounted for 14% of the increase in public spending, or
€13.7 billion. The increase in public expenditure mainly concerned the
State (+11.0%) and
social security administrations (+5.6%). However, public local administration spending was
little affected by the health crisis (-0.9%).
In 2020, additional expenditure in the health sector due to the crisis mainly focused on
the financing of Covid-19 screening tests, compensation for loss of revenue and additional
staff and equipment costs for healthcare and medical and social facilities, as well as support
for non-hospital medical professionals affected by restrictions on activity during the first
lockdown. In addition, support for businesses has been mainly provided by the solidarity fund,
the short-time working scheme, state-guaranteed loans, and reductions and deferrals of social
security contributions.
The Court considers that these schemes generally achieved their short-term objectives
and helped to preserve the country from the economic and social effects of the crisis.
However, its analysis shows that they were designed very broadly, particularly in comparison
with those of our partners, both in terms of support for businesses and households and health
expenditure, and that they could have led to windfall effects and a risk of fraud. This justifies
now returning to more targeted measures and an increase in audits. In addition, this effort
was made at the cost of increased public debt: compared to 2019, public debt increased by
nearly 20 percentage points of GDP, to 115.1 percentage points of GDP (€2,650 billion).
Beyond 2021, which will see further increases in spending due to the ongoing health
crisis, the recovery plan and long-term additional spending (the 'Ségur de la Santé' agreements
in particular), the Court stresses the need to slow the pace of public spending and calls for the
gradual phasing out of crisis measures in support of businesses and households. Resolute
action to control public spending must make it possible to reduce the ratio of debt to GDP.
Without prejudice to the recommendations made in its previous reports on the
treatment of the health crisis, the Court makes six recommendations. The First President of
the Court, Pierre Moscovici, will clarify his conclusions and the Court's latest analysis on the
end of the crisis and the path for reducing public debt.
The video of the hearing during which the report will be presented to the Finance
Committee will be available on the website of the National Assembly.
Read the report on the website of the Court of Accounts.