"What we need now is solidarity"
On Wednesday, Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz introduced the supplementary budget to the German Bundestag – the government is providing 122.5 billion euros to address the corona crisis. This is an enormous sum, said Olaf Scholz. It is needed, "to allow us to fight the social and economic impacts of the crisis with all our strength".
There are three key tasks:
- Ensuring good health care for those who become sick and ensuring that all those who treat them are protected,
- Ensuring the livelihood of all those people who have been hit by the crisis,
- Stabilising the economy and saving jobs.
"It is important that our assistance gets quickly to where it is needed," said Olaf Scholz. "That is what we can do, in our capacity as the state." In the German Bundestag, the Federal Finance Minister was speaking on behalf of Chancellor Angela Merkel. As federal government spokesperson Steffen Seibert explained, the Chancellor expressly added her thanks to all those people who are keeping the country running: doctors, nurses, everyone working in the retail trade and in transport, police officers and the staff of employment agencies and health offices.
With the supplementary budget, which provides for net borrowing of 156 billion euros, the German government is putting in place the budgetary foundations for financing measures to address the impact of the corona crisis.
Extensive package of measures
On Monday, the German government launched an extensive package to cushion the impacts of the spread of the coronavirus. It provides for the following measures:
- To support micro enterprises, freelancers and one-person businesses economically affected by the corona pandemic, the German government has adopted an emergency assistance programme worth 50 billion euros.
- The government has also decided to put in place an economic stabilisation fund. The aim is to ensure the liquidity and solvency of businesses which were healthy and competitive prior to the corona pandemic. The economic stabilisation fund is to supplement the planned Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) special programmes .
- Hospitals and medical practices are to be strengthened, because the entire health system is under strain from the corona crisis. The Cabinet thus agreed to compensate loss of earnings and cut red tape.
- Access to short-time work allowance is to be simplified to support employees and employers.
- The self-employed are to gain easier access to social welfare. Families whose income has been badly hit by the corona crisis will gain easier access to supplementary child benefit for a limited period.
- There is to be more legal certainty in times of crisis: tenants and micro entrepreneurs who are unable to meet payments or unable to meet payments on time as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are to be protected against termination of their lease agreements.