Germany CAN afford refugees: top economists
Germany will be able to bear the costs of caring for refugees and even draw an economic benefit from new migrants arriving in the country, an independent panel of top economists said on Wednesday.
Spending to manage the refugee crisis will not overburden Germany's government finances or economy, the German Council of Economic Experts said in their annual forecast.
The Munich-based Ifo institute had reported in a study on Tuesday that costs associated with the crisis, including housing, food, school and kindergarten places, German lessons, vocational training and management, would hit more than €21 billion in 2015.
In their forecasts, the council agreed with Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, who in a tax income forecast last week said that he would be able to cover the costs of the refugee crisis without endangering his policy of running a budget surplus.
But the five "Wirtschaftsweisen" (economic wise men) of the council also warned that "longer asylum processes and poor integration into the labour market could drastically increase costs," meaning that the government would have to live up to its promises in these areas.
The experts added that the government should consider exempting migrants from minimum wage laws in some cases.
Overall, the economists said that Germany could expect its good economic fortunes to continue into 2016.
They expect GDP growth of 1.7 percent for the whole of 2015 and 1.6 percent in 2016.
But "the refugee crisis means that it's become even more important to ensure the German economy is fit for the future by setting up appropriate conditions" for business to flourish, they said.
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