The economy demands tough reforms from the government
Berlin The wish list of the German economy to the traffic light government is long. It must come out in the second year of the coalition SPDGreens and FDP about more than crisis management go, says the president of the industry association BDI, Siegfried Russwurm, the Reuters news agency. “The traffic light must switch from crisis to design mode as quickly as possible.”
What that means in concrete terms is a wide field – a faster one digitalizationmore skilled workers, advances in infrastructure projects thanks to faster planning and approval, new energy supply routes as well as reduced bureaucracy and sounder public finances. Germany should see the current crisis after the Russian attack on the Ukraine as an opportunity and put the existing framework conditions to the test, demands the President of the wholesale association BGA, Dirk Jandura. “Then it will also be possible to generate more dynamics again.”
Before Christmas, Reuters asked the leading business associations about their expectations for the coming year. The sluggish digitization in the country and especially in the administration is repeatedly criticized. Here, too, a turning point is necessary.
“A little change here, a little there and, above all, not stepping on anyone’s toes – we won’t get anywhere like this,” complains the president of the digital association Bitkom, Achim Berg. It is not enough to add a digital process to an analog one. “We must have the courage not only to supplement the old processes, but also to replace them.”
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A lack of skilled workers who should be attracted from abroad in a targeted manner is also mentioned again and again. “It is necessary to enshrine the equivalence of academic and vocational training in law in order to increase the attractiveness of vocational training and to ensure equal financial support for both educational paths,” says Holger Schwannecke, Secretary General of the ZDH trade association. In the overall economy are noisy Bitkom 137,000 IT positions are vacant, more than ever before. Germany must become more attractive for talents from all over the world.
More speed in the infrastructure
After the implementation of the first floating liquefied gas terminal in Wilhelmshaven in less than a year, there is hope in the economy that the example will set a precedent. According to DIHK President Peter Adrian, there must be a massive acceleration of the planning and approval procedures for all infrastructure projects.
“It’s no use if we speed up the approvals for wind turbines, but the trucks that transport the rotor blades only get to their destination with massive detours because bridges are closed and roads are not usable,” says Adrian. Above all, the authorities must make faster decisions. “So far, however, there has been no recognizable political will to switch from the slow lane to the fast lane for all types of infrastructure projects.”
BGA President Jandura specifically criticizes the Greens-led Ministry of the Environment. Germany can no longer afford to differentiate between good and bad infrastructure projects. The ministry does not believe it is possible to increase the speed everywhere at the same time – and wants to prioritize the expansion of renewable energies, but not roads, motorways and airports.
In order to replace missing gas from Russia in the course of the war in Ukraine, the first floating LNG terminal was recently inaugurated, with more to follow in the coming weeks and months. BDI President Russwurm says this could only be the beginning. The pace must also become the new standard for other projects.
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The trade association praised the fact that the participation processes and court proceedings in the LNG case had been streamlined and that certain planning steps had been dispensed with in some cases. But there must also be greater dynamism in the rail and road sector, in housing construction and power lines. “There’s a problem everywhere here.”
The prerequisite: better digitization
The prerequisites for improvements are sufficient staffing in the authorities, greater digitization and less bureaucracy. Bitkom President Berg adds that the simplifications in the energy sector must also apply to the expansion of mobile communications and fiber optics.
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The Federal Association of Electricity and Water Management (BDEW) expects more investments in 2023, not only in the LNG sector, but also in renewable energy and the necessary grid expansion. Because the renewables are now of “outstanding public interest”, which will help, says BDEW General Manager Kerstin Andreae
Bureaucratic hurdles remain a perennial issue for the associations. Politicians must finally implement the promised moratorium on stress, according to the ZDH trade association. Small and medium-sized companies in particular should be freed from regulations, such as reporting requirements.
In the survey, only BGA President Jandura explicitly advocates paying more attention to finances next year so that they don’t get out of hand. In the corona pandemic and now in the energy crisis, the federal government in particular has accumulated enormous debts. “I’m worried about exploding government debt, rising interest rates, and spending on staff and pensions.”
The money of future generations should not be used so generously. The debt brake enshrined in the Basic Law must again be strictly adhered to.
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