With general criticism from the opposition and general praise from the government factions, the budget deliberations started on Tuesday in the National Council plenum. The individual chapters are worked through for three days before the figures from Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) are voted on on Thursday. A significant decrease in the general government deficit to 2.3 percent is planned – which, however, is questionable with the corona situation, which has deteriorated significantly again.
The program started with the Budget Accompanying Act, which includes, among other things, higher environmental subsidies and the violence protection package. The debate was used for a fundamental discussion of the overall budget and the eco-social tax reform depicted therein. SPÖ locates missed opportunities For SPÖ leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner, the government missed the opportunity to “tackle the major crises” – that is, to apply a brake on inflation and the Correcting the increased social imbalance caused by Corona. People’s lives are becoming more expensive, the finance minister is collecting more and more taxes – and thus reducing corporate income taxes instead of implementing a “real, retroactive tax reform” in view of rising prices. In a motion for a resolution – brought in by club vice-president Jörg Leichtfried – the SPÖ underscored its demands for an “inflation brake”, including an immediate reduction in wage tax, halving VAT for electricity and gas and a € 300 “winter subsidy” for low-income earners. ÖVP budget spokesman Gabriel Obernosterer stepped in contrary to the criticism: It was “surprising how you can twist numbers,” he said. The government used the budget to stabilize Austria during the difficult times of the pandemic. You have invested in the time of crisis, more than 40 billion euros have been used for Corona aid – and now, above all, low-income recipients, pensioners and companies are relieved. With the eco-social tax reform, the budget is pointing to the future. As a great success, Obernosterer praised the fact that the debt ratio will not rise to 89 percent as forecast, but rather decrease to 79 percent. FPÖ sees “denial of reality” FPÖ budget and finance spokesman Hubert Fuchs was not convinced. From his point of view, the finance minister “denied reality”. In the middle of the fourth wave, the government is pretending that Corona does not exist. The budget is based on “questionable assessments”, Turquoise-Green has bet on a “cloudless economic sky” – with a forecast that does not assume any significant adverse effects from the pandemic. The current lockdown for unvaccinated people costs 41 million euros a day. The budget was “already wasted before it came into force and has nothing to do with reality,” said Fuchs – and specifically criticized the eco-social tax reform as the “biggest sham of the Second Republic” because taxpayers were relieved by the cold progression and the The green club boss Sigrid Maurer is extremely satisfied with the eco-social tax reform. The Greens have come to put climate protection at the center of government policy – and the budget is based on that. The tax reform is “certainly the absolute opposite of anti-social”. After all, the people with the lowest incomes would clearly benefit most from the climate bonus. At the same time, the budget shows responsibility for democracy and the rule of law, for example with the “largest violence protection package that ever existed” – and also responsibility for good cooperation, for example with the care training fund. NEOS: “Not the best of both worlds” Completely different was the finding of NEOS vice club boss Nikolaus Scherak: The budget is by far “not the best of both worlds” – that is, of turquoise and green – but the expression “pure headline politics with no real will to reform”, marked by “pure forgetting of the future”. The government only presented “a disappointing extension of the status quo”. The budget does not bring any real sustainable relief – and the courage to make real reforms is lacking. So the tax system is not really ecological, because if all environmentally harmful subsidies are retained, the steering effects would “fizzle out again in the second”. Blümel: “Worries for upswing, stability and sustainability” Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) was not impressed by the criticism of the opposition. “We ensure recovery, stability and sustainability”, he praised the budget for 2022. It is clear that the pandemic is a great challenge and that “more help will probably be needed” in the current situation. This is also provided for with five billion euros and the necessary funds for the Corona short-time work extended until June 2022 in the budget. Overall, the budget has succeeded in achieving four goals: to relieve working people, to set incentives for environmentally friendly behavior, to sustainably strengthen the business location and to reduce the debt ratio step by step in order to prepare for the next crisis.