French government says anemic growth in 2013 made the deficit worse than expected

PARIS – France’s government, under EU pressure to control public finances, says the deficit last year was bigger than expected because of anemic growth.

The finance ministry released figures showing a 74.9 billion-euro ($102 billion) deficit, compared with 62.3 billion euros initially forecast. That’s down from 2012 but shrinking “slower than we had wished,” Budget Minister Caseneuve said Friday. He didn’t give a percentage.

He insisted on Europe-1 radio that the Socialist government will keep cutting spending to meet EU deficit limits. He promised not to raise taxes, saying it’s time to reduce “tax pressure.”

President Francois Hollande, elected on promises to fight EU austerity policies, stunned his leftist base with a big policy speech this week promising to slash spending and taxes. Some economists warn that could further stifle growth.