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France's Fabius says 'boss' needed at finance ministry

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius on Tuesday criticised the management of the finance ministry, suggesting it lacked a "boss" and fuelling talk of a reshuffle in France's embattled government.

President Francois Hollande's government has suffered from a string of scandals and public spats between ministers, with many focused on the finance ministry headed by Pierre Moscovici.

"I ran Bercy in the past and it's true that Bercy needs a boss," Fabius told RTL radio, using the name for the ministry from its Paris neighbourhood.

"Right now you have several bosses and, whatever the quality of the men and women and their level of agreement, I think that stronger coordination would be useful," said Fabius, a former prime minister and government heavyweight.

The finance ministry, which has seven senior and junior ministers, has been at the centre of scandals including the charging of ex-budget minister Jerome Cahuzac for tax fraud over an undeclared Swiss bank account.

Moscovici has also clashed publicly with left-wing Industrial Renewal Minister Arnaud Montebourg, most recently over Montebourg's scuppering of a deal by US Internet firm Yahoo! to buy French video-sharing service Dailymotion.

The approval rating for Hollande has plummeted in the year since his election, with recent polls showing him the most unpopular leader in modern French history.

Hollande has hinted that a government reshuffle may be in the cards and Fabius suggested the finance ministry was a prime target.

"I think that if there is a reshuffle...then this question will be dealt with," he said.

The finance ministry has also come under fire for over-optimistic forecasts on the recovery of the French economy, which is on the verge of recession and is suffering from 16-year high in unemployment.

Hollande is to give a wide-ranging press conference on Thursday when he is expected to respond to criticism of his government.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130514/frances-fabius-says-boss-needed-at-finance-ministry