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At the ceremony to open the new offices of Agency France Trésor, Laurent Fabius, the Minister of the Economy, Finance and Industry, announced a set of innovations in the management of France's government debt.
The government is to reduce the average maturity of its debt from 6 years and 4 months today to 5 years and 6 months by the end of 2002. Agency France Trésor will achieve this objective through trading on the interest-rate swap market. Its transactions will be surrounded by safeguards and strict limits. The trading schedule will be as regular as possible and transactions will be suspended during periods of excessive volatility.
In addition, the government will buy back bonds worth some 12.5 billion euro in the second half of 2001. The buybacks should help to achieve the objective of reducing the average maturity of French government debt. The government will buy back bonds through over-the-counter transactions and reverse auctions.
Finally, the French government has decided to issue the first OAT indexed on European inflation (excluding tobacco). This decision is intended to continue the development of the European market for inflation-indexed bonds, which France started in 1998 with the launch of the OATi. The new issue will attract a wider group of investors by using the European inflation index.
The development of the Agency France Trésor, which manages the government's treasury and debt, is a good example of the reforms taking place within the Ministry of the Economy, Finance and Industry. The Agency was officially inaugurated in February 2001. Its transparent and efficient action ensures that the government obtains financing on the best terms and in the best interest of the taxpayer.