Many companies are confronted with horrendous energy prices. The federal government wants to counteract this. The question of financing new programs, however, is open.
The federal government is working on a new billion-euro aid program for companies because of the explosion in energy prices. That said a spokesman for Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) on Friday in Berlin. The Stadtwerkeverband VKU called for state aid. The Union warned of a wave of insolvencies among companies. The debate about abolishing the controversial gas levy, which means higher prices for millions of customers, continues.
The surcharge is intended to support gas importers who have very high costs for replacement purchases due to the lack of Russian deliveries. Despite a planned nationalization of Germany’s largest gas importer Uniper, the federal government wants to stick to the levy instrument for the time being, which is to be introduced on October 1st.
Klingbeil: Gas allocation needs to be put to the test
SPD chairman Lars Klingbeil called for the controversial instrument to be reviewed. “I support the path that Robert Habeck suggested here,” said Klingbeil of the editorial network Germany with a view to the planned nationalization of Uniper. “But I’ll also say clearly: The gas levy should now be put to the test. There were concerns about the instrument in the SPD from the start. The goal behind it is and remains correct: “It’s about supporting the gas supply infrastructure.” But it has to be fair.
The Union accused the federal government of lack of action because of the explosion in gas prices. The situation is dramatic, said CDU General Secretary Mario Czaja on Friday in the Bundestag. But the government is not responding in a decent way. In the application, the Union calls, among other things, for the regulation on the gas levy to be repealed with immediate effect. In addition, a price brake for companies and businesses should be used.
The head of the Association of Municipal Companies (VKU), Ingbert Liebing, warned of a collapse in the electricity and gas supply if there were no state aid for ailing municipal utilities. “If we allow municipal utilities to go bankrupt and withdraw as electricity and gas suppliers, that can trigger a chain reaction – up to and including the collapse of the energy supply,” Liebing told the “Spiegel”.
In the event of insolvency, the private gas and electricity customers of a public utility that has gone bankrupt would have to be taken over by the energy supplier with the most household customers in the network area. “These suppliers would have to buy up large amounts of additional gas and electricity for their many new customers at currently exorbitant prices,” said Liebing. “In case of doubt, they will also kneel – and we will have a wildfire.” The VKU calls for a comprehensive state protective shield for the 900 municipal utilities in Germany.
Economics Minister Habeck had announced extended aid for companies because of the sharp increase in energy costs. A new aid program should include several billion euros, as a spokesman said on Friday. He cannot yet provide any precise information, this is part of talks within the federal government.
Billion-dollar special assets brought into play
An application by the Ampel householders stipulated that companies receiving grants from the gas levy or funds within the framework of other state support measures in connection with the Ukraine crisis should not receive any dividends, bonuses, special payments in the form of share packages or other separate remuneration in addition to the fixed salary for allowed to spend their organs. The application was submitted to the German Press Agency. The “Spiegel” reported about it first.
To finance additional help for companies, Habeck had brought a billion-dollar special fund into play. Politicians had decided on a special pot worth 100 billion euros for the Bundeswehr. This means new debt. Habeck said on Thursday that “fiscal policy instruments” would also have to be used for targeted support measures. If you don’t want to use the debt brake, there are other options.
In the federal government, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) in particular is insisting that the debt brake anchored in the Basic Law be observed again in the coming year. This had been suspended in recent years due to the corona pandemic. It only allows the federal government to take out new loans to a limited extent.
FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai rejected calls from the coalition partners and the opposition for a further suspension of the debt brake. “The debt brake is a brake on inflation. The debt brake is a brake on tax increases,” Djir-Sarai told the dpa in Berlin. Like the economy, people complained about exorbitant prices and rightly demanded measures from politicians to mitigate the price increases.