French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault on Thursday stood by the government's growth forecast of 0.8 percent for 2013 and vowed France would hit its deficit-reduction target of three percent of GDP.
Appearing on public television ahead of the presentation of France's 2013 budget on Friday, Ayrault said the 0.8 percent growth figure was "realistic" and "attainable" despite concerns from some economists that the forecast is too optimistic.
Asked about the deficit, Ayrault said it was vital to meet the target if France wants to keep its borrowing rates low and avoid the rising rates that have hit other eurozone countries such as Spain and Italy.
"If we abandon this goal, right away the rates will rise and then we will be in the same situation as Italy, in the same situation as Spain, and I do not want that," he said.
"We cannot continue with the debt and deficits that we have," he said.
President Francois Hollande's government will present its first annual budget Friday since the Socialist defeated incumbent right-winger Nicolas Sarkozy in May.
Officials have said about 30 billion euros ($39 billion) in savings are needed to reach the deficit target, with two-thirds coming from tax rises on the rich and businesses and a third from spending cuts.
Ayrault said the increases would affect only the top 10 percent of French taxpayers.
"In constant incomes, nine out of 10 French taxpayers will not be affected by the tax increases," he said. "These new measures spare the middle and working classes."
He said a new 75 percent tax rate on incomes over one million euros -- which critics have said will drive top earners to leave France -- would affect only a "small minority" of 2,000 to 3,000 taxpayers.
Ayrault also reiterated there would be no increase in the value-added tax or the CSG social welfare tax in 2013.