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POLITICS

Köhler calls for a new German reform push

German President Horst Köhler on Tuesday called for Germany to engage in further reform and modernization of the economy and society.

Köhler calls for a new German reform push
Photo: DPA

“We shouldn’t disparage what we’ve already achieved or turn back at all,” Köhler said on Tuesday in his third ‘Berlin Talk’ – a type of state of the nation address – at the Bellevue Palace. “Instead we should heartily continue on the path that’s proven to be right,” he said.

Köhler praised former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s Agenda 2010 reform programme which he said had provided 1.6 million Germans with jobs, and suggested an Agenda 2020 program to continue overhauling the country.

Growth shouldn’t be perceived as threatening, Köhler said. “It makes the world better, and right now the Germans are called on to make the world better and we can do it with good business,” he said.

But businesses need to act as good examples, he continued, citing recent corporate spying and tax evasion scandals. “Here, the rich, beautiful and powerful are not allowed to run red lights,” he said.

In his previous national addresses, Köhler has criticized the German school system, and this time he suggested that businesses should invest in education for the future of the economy.

German businesses need more qualified employees, which means the country needs to engage a clever immigration policy to win talent, the president said. This means naturalization and the right to democratic participation for those who choose to integrate and want to stay long-term.

Köhler’s call for changes in attitude toward immigration also counts for education, he said. “It’s shameful how often someone’s ancestry burdens their future in our education system,” he said.

POLITICS

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

Germany will reinstate its so-called debt brake in 2023 after suspending it for three years to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sources in the finance ministry said Wednesday.

Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The government will borrow 17.2 billion euros ($18.1 million) next year, adhering to the rule enshrined in the constitution that normally limits

Germany’s public deficit to 0.35 percent of overall annual economic output, despite new spending as a result of Russia’s war in Ukraine, the sources said.

The new borrowing set out in a draft budget to be presented to the cabinet on Friday is almost 10 billion euros higher than a previous figure for 2023 announced in April.

However, “despite a considerable increase in costs, the debt brake will be respected,” one of the sources said.

Although Germany is traditionally a frugal nation, the government broke its own debt rules at the start of the coronavirus pandemic and unleashed vast financial aid to steer the economy through the crisis.

READ ALSO: Debt-averse Germany to take on new borrowings to soften pandemic blow

The government has this year unveiled a multi-billion-euro support package to help companies in Europe’s biggest economy weather the fallout from the Ukraine war and sanctions against Russia.

Berlin has also spent billions to diversify its energy supply to reduce its dependence on Russia, as well as investing heavily in plans to tackle climate change and push digital technology.

But despite the additional spending, Finance Minister Christian Lindner has maintained the aim to reinstate the debt brake in 2023.

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