Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner was also unable to avoid the issue of the crashed Crédit Suisse bank. "We can say very clearly: the German credit system is stable and we will continue to ensure that," he said on Wednesday evening in the ARD talk "Maischberger". "With BaFin, we have efficient financial supervision and we have the Bundesbank, which also has a tradition of stability policy." In the program, Lindner also spoke about the problems in agreeing on the 2024 financial budget, promised a list of subsidies with proposals for savings and named it planned new building of the Chancellery as "dispensable."
The cornerstones of the budget were originally supposed to be presented on Wednesday. However, the Minister of Finance had postponed this appointment shortly beforehand – indefinitely. He has already had one-on-one talks with his cabinet colleagues, but Lindner confirmed in the ARD talk: "There is still no common understanding of the financial realities."
The income for the existing tasks of the state alone is lacking, said Lindner. The desired additional expenses of the individual ministries are not included. "We have a structural deficit in the budget, despite record income." According to Lindner, the reasons are too many legal standards and too many services that have been introduced over the past ten years.
"That's why we now have budget consultations ahead of us, which last existed in this way in 2010." At that time, the late Vice Chancellor Guido Westerwelle (FDP) called for "time to save", there was a austerity conference of the black -yellow coalition, as a result, 80 billion euros savings target for four years was achieved.
The ministers of the traffic light coalition are demanding a total of 70 billion euros more for their departments in the coming financial year. Costs such as the planned basic child security, additional funds for development aid and new support programs due to the ban on oil and gas heating from 2024 have not yet been discussed.
These are demands that the finance minister cannot promise, even with regard to the debt brake. "We have to get out of debt so that I don't end up in the situation where I have to raise taxes or start making cuts." Citizens make it available to him.”
The moderator wanted to know why the debt brake does not simply continue to be suspended, how it can be done in emergencies and how it happened for two years during the corona pandemic. "Precisely because of the inflation, the state now has to make its expenditure sustainable in the long term," said Lindner. "Otherwise we would fuel inflation with government spending financed on credit." The signal was also coming from Brussels that the debt had to be reduced, said Lindner. Revenues in Germany are at a historic record level of 424 billion euros. "You can also set priorities with the money that is there."
Lindner also made the difference to his predecessor in the Ministry of Finance, his current boss, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), clear: “He was a social-democratic finance minister and was very committed to spending. We have a different situation now, it really has to be consolidated now.” Moderator Sandra Maischberger asked whether the chancellor was behind him. Lindner vaguely: "I always advise the Chancellor as Minister of Finance so that we clearly stay on course."
Lindner said he would make suggestions this year to minimize state spending, for example through subsidies. “I will submit a subsidy report in which all subsidies will be evaluated and I will make suggestions.” The finance minister wants to see the tax break abolished for port diesel, for example. It is an annual amount in the millions, "but at least a step."
The finance minister does not want to touch the tax concession on kerosene, for example - this is about a lack of revenue of around eight billion euros - because then he sees the competitiveness of the airport sector in an international comparison at risk. "You can think about economic restrictions if they help the climate," said Lindner. “Unlike petrol or diesel in cars, there is no tax on air travel. However, it is limited by the emissions system.”
Lindner also showed a clear stance on the planned extension of the Chancellery and other federal plans. The costs are currently estimated at at least 777 million euros (instead of the original 450 million), construction should start this year. Lindner: "I believe that in times of more home office and location-flexible work, a new building next to the Chancellery is unnecessary." The Chancellor will certainly be "displeased that I suggested this here," said Lindner and laughed. "But that's my job!"
Maischberger asked the 44-year-old how long he would continue to do his job as finance minister. "I don't want to impose too narrow limits on voters," said Finance Minister Lindner mischievously. "I'm afraid that even I won't be able to get our German public finances on course by 2025 and modernize the tax system and finance future issues. If so, I would like to continue."