A price brake instead of a price increase
Lindner doubts the point of the gas tax
The gas surcharge no longer needs to be tested by law, Finance Minister Lindner said last week. However, he also expressed doubts in the meantime. The planned additional costs make no sense in the current economic situation. Instead of a gas surcharge, a gas price brake is needed.
In the discussion about the gas surcharge, the Federal Minister of Finance, Christian Lindner, now also doubts the controversial instrument. “When it comes to the gas tax, it’s less a question of law and more and more a question of economic sense,” Lindner told the “Bild am Sonntag” newspaper. “We have a surcharge for gas, which increases the price. But we need a gas price brake, which lowers the price,” added the FDP leader. It will be some time before the federal government provides assistance to households, crafts, sports clubs or culture. “The brake on gas prices must quickly help everyone in the economy,” emphasized the Minister of Finance.
The gas surcharge is intended to support gas importers who are in trouble due to the high purchase prices of Russian gas. The surcharge for all gas customers is currently set at approximately 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour.
Despite the foreseeable additional spending, Lindner does not want to shake the debt brake: “The gas price brake must be combined with long-term stable state finances. The debt brake for the federal budget is in place.” The debt brake enshrined in the Basic Law stipulates that federal and state governments must always balance their budgets without borrowing. Above all, Lindner and his FDP insist on strict compliance with the rule, which has been suspended in the federal government for three years due to Corona, starting in 2023.
The Ministry of Economy under the leadership of Robert Habeck identified questions of financial constitutional law in the gas tax. According to “Bild am Sonntag”, the Greens politician sent the bill to cabinet members last Wednesday, but in an accompanying letter it was “subject to a financial constitutional review” by the Ministry of Finance. Possible alternatives were also pointed out – direct state support to the necessary gas suppliers or taking over the additional costs of gas importers from budget funds. SPD leader Lars Klingbeil also recently said that the gas tax should be reviewed.