Federal budget: Court of Auditors criticizes lack of transparency – economy

Next week it will finally be over, the parliamentary summer break in Berlin – and the Bundestag business will start with a budget week. The parliamentary groups will meet on Monday, on Tuesday Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) will step up to the lectern at half past ten and present the draft budget for the coming year to the Bundestag.

It should be clear to Lindner that the opposition will hardly leave a good hair on his draft. This week, however, he also has to accept criticism from another direction: the Federal Court of Auditors sent a report to the budget committee in which he spreads his view of German state finances. And one can say that the Court of Auditors is not satisfied with Lindner’s figures.

The main accusation can be found in the first sentence of the 27-page report, which is available to the SZ: “The true state of federal finances is not clear from the draft budget.” At the center of the criticism is the “shifting of expenses and debts into special funds” – a trick that not only the current federal government relies on, but that has been used for many years. The problem: From the point of view of the Court of Auditors, the rules of the debt brake are being circumvented in this way. “The draft budget does not do justice to the transparency requirement,” says the Court of Auditors.

While Lindner estimates net borrowing in the coming year at 17.2 billion euros, the Court of Auditors estimates the “real net borrowing” at around 78 billion euros – partly because expenditure would be outsourced to special funds. In this context, the inspectors speak of “budget-volatile expenditure” because the federal government’s special funds are not part of the federal budget. The credit requirements of extra pots such as the climate and transformation fund (2023 around 9.3 billion euros), the special fund digital infrastructure (2.7 billion) or the development aid 2021 (3.2 billion) are not taken into account in the federal budget because the accounting practice last was changed. Another 8.5 billion euros are to be paid from the new Bundeswehr special fund. In addition to the special assets item, the Court of Auditors also criticizes the fact that the planned withdrawal of 40.5 billion euros from the so-called general reserve of the federal government will be booked as income.

In addition, the Court of Auditors warns of rising interest payments and criticizes the fact that the federal government is permanently waiving tax shares in favor of the federal states and municipalities. The report states: “While the federal government intends to continue to incur considerable debt after 2022, the federal states as a whole almost achieved the goal of balanced budgets again in 2021.”

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