Berlin (dpa) – It is expected to be this GroKo’s final budget – and more than a third of it is financed with debt.
The housekeepers in the Bundestag set the budget for 2021 on Friday evening. The bottom line is that the expenditure of nearly half a trillion euros and loans are almost twice as high as the Minister of Finance Olaf Scholz (SPD) proposed to the cabinet in September. For many citizens, the biggest tax cut in recent years has come. The Bundestag wants to pass on the budget in the week of December 8 to December 11.
“The federal budget for 2021 is all about the corona pandemic,” said EU budget holder Eckhardt Rehberg. But not everyone sees it this way: “This is not a pandemic budget, but the most expensive budget for the election campaign in the history of the Federal Republic,” argued Gesine Lötzsch from the left. The accusation: Scholz, who is running for the SPD, wants to create a good starting position.
Above all, the grand coalition wants to take up 179.82 billion euros in new debt to face the crisis and suspend the debt brake in the Basic Law again. Originally, Scholz had expected $ 96 billion. When the number of corona infections skyrocketed in the fall, he had to make improvements. Much of the billions in aid for the companies affected by the partial lockdown will likely not be released until 2021. They had to be priced in, along with the costs of vaccines.
The latest adjustment came from the coalition groups: another 20 billion more debt, a fixed rate for fighting the pandemic. No one can now say what the money will be used for, said SPD housekeeper Dennis Rohde. It is a precautionary measure “for burdens we cannot foresee today”. It was settled: if Scholz wants to use the money, he has to ask permission from the budget committee with specific plans. Lötzsch called these “bad checks,” while FDP housekeeper Otto Fricke spoke of blank checks to the government.
Scholz, on the other hand, argued that while higher debt would have to be incurred in 2021, the 218 billion approved for 2020 would not be used up long. In both years together, he plans about 300 billion in new loans. The coalition budget emphasized that not all credit facilities need to be used in 2021 either.
THE CORONA ISSUES
The pandemic will continue to cost the federal government dearly in the coming year. Not only will tax revenues remain low, many aid programs will continue. 39.5 billion euros is now available for bridging aid for the economy and corona aid for top sports clubs, for example, has been extended. The special program of KfW-Bank was expanded, the employment agency, hospitals, airports and rail are supported. Money is also planned for FFP2 masks. About 2.7 billion euros is earmarked for the purchase of corona vaccines.
The opposition is dissatisfied with the priorities: the budget is more concerned with the pandemic than with how to get out of the crisis, Fricke criticized. The Greens’ housekeeper, Sven-Christian Kindler, complained of a social imbalance. In addition, the investments for the climate-neutral transformation of the economy are far too low, instead, the federal government is saving billions of large corporations that use fossil fuels.
WHO MUST PAY ALL THIS – BUND-LÄNDER-ZOFF
In any case, tax increases are not a solution, Rehberg emphasized. Instead, the countries should help. “It is no longer acceptable for countries to avoid their financial responsibility,” he said, referring to the cost of the pandemic. He is not alone in this opinion: “The frustration of the countries is enormous among all households,” said Fricke. The criticism: The federal states would be taking on far less debt this year than the federal government. In the spring, they would have launched their own aid programs, but now they stand on the sidelines like the spectators who want to have a say, but don’t pay a cent. Several countries have already rejected the criticism and at the same time stressed: “Whoever orders, pays.”
HELP FOR THE CITIZENS
The federal budget not only provides billions in aid to businesses, but also provides substantial relief for nearly all citizens. As of January, most of them will no longer have to pay a solidarity surcharge – this is the biggest tax cut in recent years. Only the richest ten percent should still be asked to pay. In total, citizens have almost 11 billion euros more in their pocket every year.
In addition, families should receive 15 euros extra child benefit per child per month. The basic pension is also starting: people with a small pension will receive an average of 75 to 80 euros in premium – a maximum of 400 euros more. For all taxpayers, the basic levy, on which no income tax is paid, also rises from EUR 9,408 to EUR 9,744.
WHAT THE “CLEANING” HAS
The last meeting of the Budget Committee for the big vote in the Bundestag is also known as the Adjustment Meeting. The MPs spent more than 17 hours with the ministers through all departments. In some places they put it back on, brushed something together in others. For example, it was decided to raise funds for the renovation of communal facilities, namely sports halls, youth clubs, theaters and swimming pools. It was money for churches and synagogues. Humanitarian aid was also increased by EUR 170 million. The AfD criticized this: Germany is not allowed to compensate for the consequences of the pandemic in other countries in an emergency.