BERLIN (Reuters) – Germany’s health minister is demanding more government money for his department next year, a government source told Reuters, stretching the public finances as tax revenues dwindle.
Health Minister Jens Spahn is demanding an additional 25.8 billion euros ($31 billion) in the 2022 budget, the source told Reuters. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil also wants 10 billion euros more for pension insurance for the year after next.
The cabinet is due to decide on the main points of the 2022 budget in March. The total federal budget for this year is 498.62 billion euros.
Business daily Handelsblatt reported that Finance Ministry had in the past few days received requests for around 50 billion euros for the areas of health, care and pensions alone for the years 2022 and 2023.
With Finance Minister Olaf Scholz facing billions less in tax revenues due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic, his plan to comply with debt brake rules next year look almost impossible to achieve, Handelsblatt said.
To recover from the coronavirus shock, Germany suspended its constitutionally enshrined debt limits for this year. But from 2022 onwards, it planned to stick to the debt brake rules again, limiting borrowing to a tiny fraction of gross domestic product.
Scholz earlier told Focus Online: “My forecast is: In the medium term, our economic strength will enable us to grow out of our high debt,” Scholz said.
Asked specifically about a proposal from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff to soften Germany’s debt issuance law, allowing continued deficit spending, Scholz said: “What I thought about it, I keep to myself.”
($1 = 0.8274 euros)
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Alison Williams)