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France's Le Maire: We went too far in use of consulting firms

FILE PHOTO: Weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace in Paris

PARIS (Reuters) - The French government made excessive use of consultancy firms in the past and is now striving to correct that, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Sunday.

Emmanuel Macron's government has come under pressure in recent months for being too dependent on consultancy groups.

Financial prosecutors said earlier this week they were investigating his election campaign as part of a wider probe into consultancy firm McKinsey and its links to the president.

"We went too far. For years, this government and previous governments relied too much on consultancy firms. It drifted. This was corrected by the Prime Minister's instruction that all ministries cut by 15% the use of consultancy firms," Le Maire told France 3 television.

Between the first half of 2021 and the first half of 2022, the Finance Ministry had for instance managed to cut by 34% its use of consultancy firms, he added.

Le Maire did not comment on news France's national financial prosecutor's office had widened the scope of an existing probe into alleged tax fraud by consultancy group McKinsey to include the role of consultancy groups in the 2017 and 2022 election races.

Macron on Friday said his 2017 campaign finances were checked and cleared by judges in his first public comments on the probe.

A report by the French Senate in March 2022 had notably pointed out that the government was "dependent" on consulting firms such as McKinsey.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon; editing by David Evans)