The details of the electricity and gas price brake worry the middle class
Dhe Bundestag Budget Committee has spoken: No dividends, bonuses or special payments may flow in addition to the fixed salary if companies take advantage of the Economic Stabilization Fund to cushion the extreme rise in energy prices. In printed paper 2321, he calls on the federal government to present regulations that ensure this – “taking into account the design of the programs and sensible criteria (e.g. instrument of the support measure, orders of magnitude or reference values)”.
This so-called stipulation decision from mid-October alarmed many medium-sized companies. As can be heard, this resolution is currently in high demand. But the paper itself is of little help. Because it is still unclear which companies will be affected.
The document refers to Section 26a of the Stabilization Fund Act and the aid listed there: gas price brake, Electricity price brake, support measures for companies that have gotten into difficulties due to the energy crisis, “especially if they are not covered to a sufficient extent by the electricity and gas price brake”. It is also about gas importers.
Family entrepreneurs are nevertheless alarmed. You are wondering how this is supposed to work when several companies are linked and, for example, a GmbH and Co. KG is at the top of the company hierarchy, to whose account all surpluses from the companies below flow. The owners, in turn, depend on transfers from this account when they have to pay the income taxes due – otherwise they would have to pay them from private assets. Which not everyone wants or can do.
The coalition defends the regulation
In the coalition, the regulation is defended with reference to the high costs for the state. The price brakes for gas and electricity plus special support cost taxpayers at least a high double-digit billion amount. Why subsidize companies that don’t need it? You have to prevent free-rider effects and ensure that the artificially created profits remain in the company. This is a question of justice, it said in coalition circles. Discussions are being held as to how this should be implemented in concrete terms and a sensible solution is being sought. In order not to complicate this, none of the politicians asked wanted to be quoted.
Rainer Kirchdörfer, head of the Foundation for Family Businesses and Politics, warns the SPD, Greens and FDP against setting high hurdles for companies that depend on curbing energy costs in the draft laws on gas and electricity price brakes. “The traffic light coalition should ensure that the relief also reaches the economy,” said the lawyer specializing in advising family businesses of the FAZ. “An additional ban on dividends and bonuses would mean that even fewer companies would be able to claim the support.”
Fear of government intervention
Oliver Hermes, CEO of the Wilo Group, fears government intervention in salary policy and dividend strategy as a result of the energy price brakes. Such interventions put a strain on Germany as a business location. “The investor has the choice between very high energy costs in Germany or a blatant encroachment on his ownership rights,” said the head of the Wilo Group, which turns over 1.65 billion euros with pumps and has 8,200 employees.
If in doubt, those affected would make their investment decisions in favor of the United States or other countries, he threatened. It will also make it more difficult to bring back operational activities to secure critical infrastructure in Germany. “Especially family businesses will think twice about using the energy price brakes or not,” said the FAZ manager. Maintaining independence is an important part of their strategy.
The coalition is aware of such concerns. It’s not about craftsmen and normal medium-sized companies – and a solution will also be found for group structures, it is said in their circles. Parts of the coalition also do not rule out that these conditions will ultimately only apply to companies that not only benefit from the energy price brakes, but are so badly hit by the crisis that they are even dependent on recapitalization assistance. A decision is expected soon.