Bfederal finance minister Christian Lindner (FDP) does not want to thwart the turnaround in interest rates by boosting demand. The federal government is faced with the difficult task of having to support companies, but at the same time not driving up prices any further. "We have to fight inflation," said Lindner on Thursday at the Insurance Day in Berlin.
the European Central Bank have announced a further trip in interest rate policy, which the German state must not counteract with additional spending. This is what differentiates the current situation from the corona pandemic. "We have to start on the supply side and not on the demand side," he said.
Companies and politicians had waited a long time for interest rates to rise and normalize. But nobody would have wished that the monetary policy measures had to be taken in such a difficult economic environment as after the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine. The war brought suffering to people in Ukraine and shook the peace order.
Nevertheless, Lindner wants to support companies
However, his announcement should not be understood in such a way that the state is leaving companies to their fate. The sharply rising prices for energy imports, due to their effect on the gas and electricity markets, constituted "a real danger for actually healthy companies", said the finance minister: "There is a risk of an economic structural break." This new situation requires the full concentration of politicians. Banks would have to be put in a position to grant loans, for example through exemptions from liability. In addition, there will also have to be measures by the state.
The focus is on the shortage of gas due to Russia's rationing. The state acted quickly. Four LNG terminals went into operation as early as next year. With a view to Berlin Airport BER, whose construction took years, Lindner said that this should be a model for future infrastructure projects such as hydrogen charging stations and railway and motorway bridges. “Not with the Tempo BER, but with the Tempo LNG. Then our country will win through the crisis.”
As a result of the ECB's rapid turnaround in interest rates, the interest surplus of 4 billion euros last year has now turned into a debt service of 29 billion euros. "It's a steep wall that opens up there," said Lindner. Unfortunately, interest gains from the past decade were not used to pay off debt. Instead, additional state benefits were agreed, for which financing options must now be sought.
The Minister of Finance announced that legislation on the new funded portion of statutory pension insurance (stock pension) will start this year. A reform of the company pension scheme is a little more work, because it involves complicated questions - for example, how claims of a pensioner can be easily transferred to a new employer.
The FDP chairman said that his plan to make employee capital participation better for tax purposes would also take some time. The reform of private old-age provision will begin with an obligation to provide for the self-employed. The relationship between freedom and responsibility no longer agrees here. However, the self-employed should not be dependent on offers from the statutory pension insurance. "That's exciting for you," Lindner whispered audibly to the insurance directors.