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French Senate sends back 2013 budget bill

MYT 3:35:01 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - The French Senate rejected the government's 2013 budget bill on Wednesday as left-wing lawmakers concerned about austerity voted against Socialist President Francois Hollande's package.

The rejection should not affect Hollande's plans to push through the country's toughest budget in three decades because the lower house of parliament has already approved the bill and it will have the last say on the legislation.

The opposition from left-wingers supposed to be loyal to the ruling Socialist Party is nevertheless an embarrassment to Hollande and it means the National Assembly will now have to work with the Senate to create a compromise bill.

As a result, only 156 senators voted in favour of the bill and 165 against.

The draft budget aims to keep France on track to meet a deficit ceiling of 3 percent of economic output next year despite stalled growth by imposing 20 billion euros $26 billion (16.2 billion pounds) in new taxes on companies and wealthy households.

Lawmakers from the radical Left Front party, who say their concerns that the budget is too focused on belt-tightening have fallen on deaf ears, abstained from a vote on the revenues side of the bill.

(Reporting by Emile Picy; Writing by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Catherine Bremer/Ruth Pitchford)

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