French President Francois Hollande has blamed a worse-than-expected economic slowdown for a new cut in his government's growth forecast for this year and next.

Speaking yesterday in a televised interview on French channel TF1, Mr Hollande said gross domestic product growth will be "barely" above zero this year and only 0.8% in 2013.

That is well under the 1.2% his Socialist government had previously forecast.

However, he insisted that he could "turn around" the French economy and is on course to do so.

He blamed five years of government inaction for the present state of affairs, but said his government had "caught up quickly" and living would be better in five years than it is currently.

Mr Hollande has said he is going ahead with a controversial plan to raise income tax on France's wealthiest citizens to 75%.

He said there would be no exceptions to the new income tax for people earning €1m a year or more, which would affect 2,000 or 3,000 people, he said.

Mr Hollande expects to announce proposals for lifting France's growth and competiveness by the end of the year, with the results expected to be felt in 2014.

It will include various as yet unspecified measures to make the labour market more flexible.

Unemployment in France is now at 10%, but 22.8% for those under 25.

French employers are especially reluctant to hire young people because restrictive labour laws make it very difficult for companies to lay off new employees.

The goal, said Mr Hollande, was to reverse France's rising unemployment trend by the end of next year.