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Who should pay for Germany’s roads?

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Who should pay for Germany’s roads?
Photo: DPA
12:21 CEST+02:00
A top politician's suggestion that drivers should be charged €100 a year towards the upkeep of Germany's roads was met with derision on Tuesday. But how should Germany fill the black hole it its infrastructure budget?

Schleswig-Holstein’s state premier Torsten Albig of the Social Democrats (SPD) said on Tuesday that a special annual charge of €100 on all drivers was needed to fix the nation's poorly-maintained roads.

His suggestion was promptly shot down by his own party as well as the opposition.

On Tuesday Albig told Die Welt newspaper that the government should be honest with its citizens that it needed more money to fix roads in poor repair.

“Whoever is fearful of losing [their seat at the next election] because they want an extra €100 a year from people to fix roads, will be voted out anyway because the same people will be unable to drive to work on our roads," he said.

But SPD leader and Germany’s vice-chancellor Sigmar Gabriel said there was no mention of the charge in the coalition government contract.

The suggestion was “completely unacceptable,” wrote SPD politician Joachim Poß on Facebook.

The SPD wants to tax top earners to fill the black hole in the country’s transport budget - an estimated €7.2 billion a year.

But their Bavarian coalition partners, the Christian Social Union (CSU), who currently hold the transport ministry, have controversially suggested charging foreign drivers on German motorways instead.

The toll on foreign drivers, which would work by reducing Germans’ road tax and then charging everyone who drives in the country through a vignette system, could bring in €800 million a year, the party has said.

CSU general secretary Andreas Scheuer described Albig’s plan as “astonishing” and accused the SPD of plotting to put additional financial burdens on German drivers.

Saxony-Anhalt’s state premier Reiner Haseloff from the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) told the Mitteldeutsche Zeitung that the government must learn to get along on its current revenues. “We don’t want special taxes for citizens any more,” he said. 

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