Germany’s Scholz announces 65-bn euro inflation-busting package
Germany will spend a further 65 billion euros ($64.7 billion) on shielding customers and businesses from soaring inflation, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday, two days after Russia announced it was suspending some gas deliveries indefinitely.
The three parties in his coalition deliberated until late in the night before announcing the measures, which included a tax on energy companies, help paying electricity bills and a public transport subsidy.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February has spurred inflation worldwide. In Germany, the effect has been exacerbated by Russia’s continuous reduction in volumes of gas pumped to the country, which has caused a surge in the price of energy fueling Europe’s largest economy.
“Russia is no longer a reliable energy partner,” Scholz told a news conference, adding that Germany’s earlier preparations meant that it would get through the winter heating season.
But while supplies were sufficient, the government would need to help shield consumers and businesses from the higher costs, he said.
“You’ll never walk alone,” he added, in English, before continuing in German: “Nobody will be left alone.” The energy crunch came into sharper relief when Russia’s state-controlled energy giant Gazprom said on Friday it was keeping closed its main Nord Stream 1 pipeline, the biggest single pipeline carrying Russian gas to Germany.
Among the main measures was a windfall tax on energy companies, which Finance Minister Christian Lindner said would bring in revenues in the “two-digit billions” range. Renamed a “coincidence tax” to assuage Lindner’s party’s objections to the concept of a windfall tax, this was one of the most controversial measures.
Part of the proceeds would be used to offer 1.7 billion euros in tax breaks to 9,000 energy intensive companies, a government document showed.
($1 = 1.0049 euros)
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