Thanks to low interest rates, the German government has saved €145.7 billion ($156.8 billion) in interest expenses since 2008 compared with its own budget predictions. That’s according to a response from the finance ministry to a request from the Greens, which Handelsblatt has obtained.
In its budgets from 2008 to 2016, the finance ministry had calculated interest expenditures of a total of €416.2 billion, but the government ended up spending only €270.5 billion. The savings were particularly large last year. In its financial report for 2012, the finance ministry had estimated expenditure of €41.2 billion for its debt service in 2016. “At the end of the financial year, €17.5 billion were reported for the year,” the ministry said. That saved Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble €23.7 billion in 2016 alone compared with the original plan.
At the ongoing spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund, Germany was criticized for its high budget surplus. The IMF, the US and other countries are pushing for Berlin to increase its government expenditure.
“While the crisis has raged in parts of Europe for years, Germany has profited profoundly,” said Sven Christian Kindler, budgetary spokesman for the Green party. “A new federal government will have to provide more money for the EU budget and future investments from autumn, thus helping Europe out of the crisis.”
Martin Greive is a correspondent for Handelsblatt based in Berlin. To contact the author: firstname.lastname@example.org