Budget: Federal Court of Auditors criticizes excessive debt

Federal Court of Auditors criticizes excessive debt

The 2022 annual report of the Berlin Court of Auditors is in the House of Representatives. photo

© Jens Kalaene/dpa

The traffic light government’s budget policy has been harshly criticized. In view of the immensely growing mountain of debt, the Federal Court of Auditors also criticizes the “increasingly creative bookkeeping” of the finance minister.

The Federal Court of Auditors has sharply criticized the federal government’s budget policy. “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 Kay Scheller, President of the Court of Auditors Editorial network Germany (RND/Wednesday).

The lawyer also took the traffic light coalition and Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) to task, as they veiled the real situation. “Many sub-budgets and increasingly creative bookkeeping create a lack of transparency.”

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.”

Interest increased tenfold

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 retaining 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.

The Federal Ministry of Finance “resolutely” rejected accusations of trickery and a lack of transparency, as a spokeswoman explained. The calculations of the Court of Auditors are not comprehensible. “The Basic Law contains clear guidelines for calculating net borrowing, which the budget legislator adheres to. This borrowing and the respective special funds are presented in the budget in a transparent and comprehensible manner. Especially in the case of the special funds, the respective draft budget contains very detailed lists of expenditure and income.” The development of reserves is also clearly understandable.

The President of the Court of Auditors also considers the persistently high subsidies to be problematic, for example for the use of buses in local transport – these benefits would be based on diesel consumption. “The higher the consumption, the higher the relief. You have to let that melt in your mouth,” criticized Scheller. “It can’t go on like this.” The federal government should also no longer be allowed to give tax shares in the billions to the federal states.


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