Much less debt for pandemic than expected | Free press

Berlin (dpa) – The Bundestag approved the grand coalition’s new debt of a whopping 218 billion euros for the past year. Pandemic loans at an unprecedented level, for aid packages, VAT cuts, business rescue.

Many have wondered who will ever repay that. Now it’s clear: In the end, the federal government didn’t need about 40 percent of the loans at all. But that’s not all good news.

According to the preliminary budget, the federal government took out new loans in 2020 for a total of 130.5 billion euros, the Ministry of Finance reports Tuesday. That’s still a record, but it’s also 87.3 billion less debt than assumed. Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) emphasizes: “Despite the pandemic, we have our finances under control.” According to the ministry, the summer corona pandemic was considered more economically challenging than it was.

At the turn of the year it is clear: the economy did not collapse as sharply as one had feared. This not only automatically increases tax revenues in the household, but also makes the social security funds look better. Many companies have also not taken up the deferred payment and tax deferral offer.

These are all signs that the federal government’s aid policy is working, Treasury Secretary Scholz said. The fact that the federal government has invested a lot of money in health, to support the economy and to safeguard jobs is bearing fruit: “Economic development is better, job losses are lower, tax revenues are higher and new debt is significantly lower than sometimes it was predicted. . “

But there is another way to tell the story. Because so many loans have not been used, it is also because no money has run out. “Not necessarily a reason to cheer,” said Green Housekeeper Sven-Christian Kindler. The ministries canceled approximately 20 billion euros from the record-high investment funds. The EUR 6 billion increase in equity for Deutsche Bahn did not work due to problems with the EU state aid procedure. Subsequently, the payment of economic aid planned for November and December for companies was delayed. Most of the money won’t start flowing until this year.

In total, according to the ministry, some 25 billion euros in operating aid was not needed. The reason is on the one hand the better economy, but there is also criticism of the slow implementation, a lot of bureaucracy and a jumble of rules from the economy. “The companies are waiting for urgent support,” emphasized Union housekeeper Eckhardt Rehberg.

Scholz and Minister of Economic Affairs Peter Altmaier (CDU) therefore want to simplify the financing system and increase aid. The Ministry of Finance has transferred part of the money not used in 2020 to this year. Moreover, when the budget was set, Scholz had already increased the credit volume for the current year to around 180 billion – in the expectation that aid could finally flow.

A longer lockdown and further restrictions can also be financed, the Ministry of Finance emphasizes. “We are prepared and we have the strength to do it,” they say. “We will have the strength to continue this pandemic in 2021.” The economy can also rely on this, Scholz emphasizes time and again.

And what about the still high debts? Under the federal repayment plan, some of this must be repaid in 20 years from 2023. The Ministry of Finance is now calculating two billion a year – in the summer they had assumed six billion a year. Scholz wants to do this with the help of the economy. “We will mainly come out of new debt with economic growth, as was the case after the financial crisis,” he told the German news agency.

At the same time, the German tax system must be reformed. The question of justice arises – “with and without a crisis, but even more so after a crisis”. “The point is to see if we can share the tax burden more fairly,” said the SPD candidate for chancellor. His party continues to take the position: “Shelter for middle and low incomes, but very high incomes contribute slightly higher”.

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