State lottery and airports to be sold off to fund innovation initiative and pay down national debt
After months of debate and argument, and despite resistance from the official Opposition, French lawmakers voted in the National Assembly Thursday to privatise the majority state-owned lottery and gambling group Francaise des Jeux and three major French airports.
The AFP news agency reports that the bill allowing the government to sell its majority stake sailed through a near-empty National Assembly, with 39 voting in favour to seven against.
French president Emmanuel Macron, a former investment banker, has indicated that he will use the proceeds to fund a technology innovation initiative and pay down some of France’s crippling national debt. He hopes to raise Euro 10 billion from the sell-off of state assets
In the case of FdJ, lawmakers insisted that the government retain a 20 percent stake.
“We want to change from a dividends approach to one of investing in the future,” Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire told lawmakers before the debate Wednesday.
France’s public debt amounted to 99 percent of GDP in the second quarter, compared with a first-quarter Eurozone average of 86.8 percent, according to the AFP report. EU members are supposed to respect a limit of 60 percent of GDP.