Finances: Auditors complain that millions were wasted at the federal level

Auditors complain that the federal government wasted millions

A Jaguar E-Type and other vintage cars at the Techno-Classica vintage car show in Essen. photo

© Roland Weihrauch/dpa

It was not until the end of 2022 that the Federal Court of Auditors presented its new deficiency report on the federal budget and economic management. Four months later, the auditors follow suit.

In numerous cases, the Federal Court of Auditors has accused the federal government of inefficient and non-targeted budget and economic management. On Tuesday, the auditors extended the list of deficiencies, which was only presented in mid-December with the “Remarks 2022”, by 18 more contributions. The Audit Committee of the Bundestag is to deal with it in the first half of this year.

The Federal Court of Auditors has now complained that the federal government is affording too many offices in times of increasing digitization. The auditors estimated that the federal government could save 300 million euros in rent per year if 20 percent of the office space were given up. In addition, the emission of climate-damaging gases would be reduced. The auditors also complained that the federal government was investing many billions of euros in climate protection, but did not know how successful the investments were.

The favorable taxation of vintage cars with the history number plate is also criticized. The advantage that cars can enjoy at least 30 years after registration was actually intended for “historical collector’s items for the maintenance of motor vehicle cultural assets”. However, it was now also used by many cars in everyday traffic. According to the auditors, almost 400,000 vehicles with an H license plate are tax-advantaged, three times the number originally assumed. This leads to annual shortfalls in vehicle tax revenue of around 170 million euros.

Climate-damaging flying promoted

The BRH continued to criticize that the federal government’s imminent loss of revenue in the three-digit million range was also responsible for the annual reduction in air traffic tax. This also thwarts the goal of making climate-damaging flying more expensive.

There are also complaints that the Federal Ministry of Finance has been making false statements about revenue shortfalls in the federal budget accounts for years. The federal government does not adequately fulfill its accountability towards the public and the Bundestag.

The auditors also have several objections in the social area. For example, the federal government is promoting the expansion of all-day care in part without meeting needs. The distribution key for the financial aid ignores the fact that the number of primary school children in five federal states is expected to fall in the next few years. The family ministry is currently assuming 185,000 places too many. According to the Court of Auditors, an adjustment would save up to 700 million euros.

Municipalities miscalculate costs

Furthermore, false billing by local authorities for benefits for accommodation and heating for jobseekers in the basic social security system is disapproved. The auditors refer to 32 of the 405 municipalities, but suspect similar errors in the unaudited municipalities. Here the Federal Ministry of Social Affairs must ensure correct accounting together with the federal states. The job center pays out benefits for accommodation and heating on behalf of the municipalities. They reported their expenses to the federal states, which in turn settled the federal share with the Ministry of Social Affairs.

The Ministry of Transport has also been criticized on several points. For example, there are complaints that rail freight transport is being subsidized too much. He received 340 million euros more than necessary to compensate for the consequences of the corona pandemic. The ministry also “misappropriated” 300 million euros in connection with the immediate climate protection program.

Finally, the Court of Auditors criticizes the expensive reconstruction of torn Stasi documents. In 28 years, only a total of 3.2 percent of the documents were recovered. The 17 million euro attempt to restore files digitally was only successful in 0.1 percent of the total stock. The auditors are calling for the reconstruction of torn documents to be “immediately realigned.”


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