Government could save millions, yet squanders amidst crisis
In its review of the 2023 budget, the taxpayers' association has made a number of recommendations to the federal government to put the euro millions it is now wasting to better use in helping people and tackling the crisis.
More money for taxpayers, less for government extravagance
The German federal government has been struggling to complete the draft budget for weeks, as all coalition members want to enforce their own interests. The Social Democrat-Green-Liberal cabinet has wasted huge sums in both last years’ and this years’ budget, and spends too much on itself, the German Taxpayers Federation (BbSt) says, which highlights the most serious issues in its booklet titled „Savings book for the federal budget 2023.”
Last year, the government paid around 1.5 million euros to photographers, hairdressers and make-up artists. The Foreign Ministry alone accounted for about half of this expense, with the Green Party Annalena Baerbock’s ministry spending around 137 thousand euros for these services. Photographers cost the government around 1.2 million euros.
„In times of supposedly tight budgets, record debt and fears of recession, it would be a good signal to taxpayers to reduce spending on expensive make-up artists and to think twice about hiring a photographer to depict you in the desired light,”
the taxpayers’ federation advised the government.
Unlike Austria, where political foundations received only 10.5 million euros, Germany set a record in financing foundations – at a time when taxpayers are suffering from high energy prices. Organisations linked to political parties can receive nearly 690 million euros in funding this year. The association has proposed a law on foundations „to put an end to this self-serving mentality”.
A BdSt attributes a „symbolic character” to the federal government’s 46 commissioners.
Their public image is waning rapidly and they hardly implement any concrete measures. The commissioners cannot complain about low salaries: the commissioner for culture and media, for instance, receives 162 thousand euros a year while the commissioner for data protection and freedom of information earns 192 thousand euros annually,
the association writes, advising ministries to rely on existing staff more effectively instead of appointing new commissioners funded by taxpayers’ money.
Country in unprecedented debt
German public debt reached a new record at the end of last year, as reported by V4NA in an earlier article. Overall, the debt of the federal government, the states, the municipalities, the municipal associations and the social security system, including all extra sums in the non-public sector, stood at 2367.3 billion euros.
This means a debt of 28,155 euros per capita. In 2022, public debt increased by 2.0 per cent or 46.1 billion euros compared to the previous year. These statistics only take into account liabilities to the non-governmental sector, such as banks and private companies in Germany and abroad.
The federal debt grew at an above-average rate: by the end of 2022, it rose by 4.6 per cent or 71.9 billion euros to 1620.4 billion euros compared to the previous year.
„This is mainly due to the continued increase in financing requirements as a result of the pandemic situation in recent years, and the current energy crisis,”
the statisticians emphasised, adding that most of the debt is attributable to the establishment of the Economic Stabilisation Fund (WSF). The fund was set up in 2020 to counteract the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic, and was expanded last year to cushion the impact of the energy crisis. The overall debt of the two areas amount to 82.7 billion euros.
This, however, is all negligible compared to the amount of money that flows through the various lobby groups linked to one of the governing parties in the coalition, primarily to the Greens.
For example, it was recently leaked that an annual grant of two million euros was awarded to an organisation that participates in the rescue of migrants in distress on the Mediterranean Sea, and the head of this organisation is, incidentally, the partner of Katrin Goring-Eckardt, the Green Party vice president of the federal parliament.
The sources for this funding are covered directly from the budget of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and are not included in the original draft budget. But indirectly, of course, this money comes from taxpayers’ pockets. To add to Germany’s existing financial woes, Finance Minister Christian Lindner of the Liberals has recently requested the Bundestag budget committee to significantly increase public spending in terms of weapons deliveries to Ukraine. Thus, providing military aid to Ukraine will cost around 12 billion euros to Germany in the coming years.