Ger­many’s Merkel to spend more on in­fras­truc­ture in elec­tion year

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BERLIN: Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel promised yes­ter­day to in­crease in­vest­ment in in­fras­truc­ture in Europe’s biggest econ­omy in 2017, an elec­tion year, with­out re­sort­ing to new bor­row­ing.

Ger­many, which runs a bud­get sur­plus, has re­sisted pres­sure from Euro­pean peers to spend more to help boost euro zone growth and last week the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion ef­fec­tively urged Ger­many to loosen its purse strings next year. In her weekly pod­cast, Merkel - who is ex­pected to an­nounce on Sun­day that she will run for a fourth term as chan­cel­lor next year said her gov­ern­ment would raise spend­ing on roads, rail­ways and broad­band as well as on ed­u­ca­tion. De­spite the in­crease in spend­ing next year, “there will be no new debts at the cost of fu­ture gen­er­a­tions”, Merkel said. She also said money spent on in­te­grat­ing mi­grants was “a good in­vest­ment” as it would mean they would be able to use Ger­many’s ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem and then join the work­force.

Dent­ing Merkel’s pop­u­lar­ity

Fears about the in­te­gra­tion of al­most 900,000 mi­grants last year, many from war zones in the Mid­dle East, have dented Merkel’s pop­u­lar­ity but her gov­ern­ment ar­gues that many will in the long run be a valu­able part of the la­bor force. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Wolf­gang Schaeu­ble has planned a bal­anced bud­get for the next four years. A doc­u­ment showed on Fri­day that Merkel’s conservative Chris­tian Democrats (CDU) plan to di­vide sur­plus tax rev­enues be­tween in­fras­truc­ture in­vest­ment, tax re­lief and spend­ing more on for­eign and se­cu­rity pol­icy.

Merkel also said she wanted to in­crease spend­ing fur­ther on de­fense and on the NATO al­liance. “Se­cu­rity plays an im­por­tant part and that is not just the case since the elec­tion of a new pres­i­dent in the United States,” she said.

The Ger­man par­lia­ment de­bates the gov­ern­ment’s bud­get pro­pos­als next week. Last month, the gov­ern­ment raised its growth forecast for this year to 1.8 per­cent from 1.7 per­cent. —Reuters

BERLIN: Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel (R) and Bri­tain’s Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May ar­rive for a state­ment prior to a meet­ing at the Chan­cellery on Fri­day. —AFP

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