Municipal debt relief: SPD boss labels concerns “ignorant”

by Thorsten Koch

The SPD Chairman, Norbert Walter-Borjans, has slammed the concerns about plans to reduce municipal debt as “ignorant”. CDU and CSU “lay across”, he said, claiming that it was a fact that Germany’s economic and social balance were at risk if the country was “divided” and plans by the SPD not embraced.

The plans of Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz (SPD) for 57 billion Euros are a “dramatic” old debt project in the sense of national solidarity, Walter-Borjans said. He referred to improvements in bus and train connections that could be implemented through the Scholz plans. He also referred to improvements concerning unattractive cityscapes and social offerings. “Here, targeted subsidies for the municipalities would have an economic impact particularly fast.”

Bouffier calls for unity

The Hessian Prime Minister and deputy CDU Federal Chairman Volker Bouffier (CDU) criticized that Scholz acted without consultation if he advocated debt relief for the municipalities. This was wrong, Bouffier said. “In the crisis, you have to stick together and not announce without any consultation something that poses more problems than it solves.” The German states would have to pay half of the costs of the rescue package for municipalities without having been involved beforehand, in case Scholz’s project were realized.

In December, Bavaria’s finance minister Albert Füracker (CSU) complained that Scholz’s plans, which the Finance Minister had presented already, related to cash advances, with which shortages were generally compensated for merely in the short term. Bouffier said that the state of Hesse had taken over almost 5 billion Euros in old municipal debts through a special fund, and would not pay twice.

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