At -18 billion euros, the net financing balance was around 4.5 billion euros better than in 2020 and around 12.8 billion euros better than the budget, Finance Minister Magnus Brunner (ÖVP) announced at a press conference on Monday. This means a deficit of about 4.5 percent, said Wifo director Gabriel Felbermayr, “significantly less than we feared”. It shows that one is on a “very, very good way”, according to Brunner. However, Austria must also prepare for the time after the pandemic and secure growth in the long term – for example through the eco-social tax reform. “In the medium term, we also want to return to a sustainable budget path.” When asked about a time frame, Brunner said that it would not be possible in a year and also depended on the development of the pandemic.
“Today – almost two years after the first Corona case – we have the situation that things went well,” said the minister. He also referred to a “wide range of auxiliary tools”. These would have meant “that a wave of insolvencies could be prevented”. The help has been continuously adjusted: For example, the average approval time for the cancellation bonus, which is used the most, is currently only seven days.
The minister also emphasized that the most important thing is to prevent lockdowns in the future – vaccination is necessary for this. When asked about the free tests, the head of department said it had to fit into an overall strategy, and that would be looked at when the vaccination requirement was implemented. Felbermayr added that the tests should in any case remain affordable, because tests would also give people security and thus quality of life.