Finance Minister Christian Lindner: “Ever more creative accounting”
Photo: Kay Nietfeld / dpa
The Federal Court of Auditors has accused the federal government of concealing the true budget situation of the federal government.
"Many sub-budgets and increasingly creative bookkeeping ensure a lack of transparency," said Court of Auditors President Kay Scheller to the editorial network Germany.
Contrary to what Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) claims, the debt brake will be violated in the coming year.
»In 70 years of the Federal Republic, the federal government has accumulated a mountain of debt of 1.3 trillion euros.
In just three years - 2020 to 2022 - the mountain will rise by an incredible 800 billion euros to over 2 trillion euros," said Scheller.
According to calculations by the Court of Auditors, the borrowing planned for 2023 at almost 107 billion euros is more than twice as high as the officially reported new debt of almost 46 billion euros, said Scheller.
The debt rule enshrined in the Basic Law does not allow such a high value.
It is the government's job to present the budget situation openly and honestly, he added.
"Instead, she's covering up the situation."
The various crises, the great need to catch up, for example in infrastructure, defence, digitization and climate change, as well as demographic change and high inflation, are currently creating “a toxic mixture”, said Scheller.
»The sustainability of public finances is at risk.«
The aggravated situation can also be seen in the rising interest rates: "In 2021 the federal government paid almost 4 billion euros in interest, for 2023 it will be over 40 billion euros - a tenfold increase with a further upward trend."
Scheller spoke out in favor of maintaining the debt brake, as it forces politicians to make clear decisions and can adapt to the economic situation.
However, despite assurances from the government, it is currently not being complied with.
"It can't go on like this"
The President of the Court of Auditors called on the federal government to prioritize spending and save elsewhere.
For example, subsidies would have to be reduced.
"Anyone who wants to shape the future must part with financial aid that simply no longer fits the time," said Scheller.
For years, however, nothing has happened on the subject of subsidy reduction.
As an example, he cited subsidies for the use of buses in local transport - these benefits would be based on diesel consumption.
»The higher the consumption, the greater the relief.
You have to let that melt in your mouth," criticized Scheller.
"It can't go on like this." The federal government shouldn't be allowed to continue handing over billions in taxes to the federal states.
Scheller also sees a need for reform in social insurance.
"Some of the solutions have been on the table for years: reducing benefits or higher contributions or working longer are the adjusting screws," he said.
But this requires unpopular decisions.
"The problem cannot be solved by sitting it out," said the chief auditor.