OECD tells France to speed reform

THE FRENCH government must speed up structural economic reforms and cut its excessive budget deficit, says the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Its report expresses particular concern about the scale of the gap in financing future pensions.

The OECD says French unemployment remains much too high, partly because people can get more on benefits than in work, and partly because the minimum wage is too high. The report says the law to cut working hours may not create extra jobs if it adds to employers' costs. Growth of 2.4 per cent is forecast this year, followed by 2.6 per cent in 2000. But the OECD expects unemployment to remain above 11 per cent until next year.