SPD Secretary-General Kevin Kühnert has made it clear that the state continues to pay for current benefits despite the blocking of budget funds. The step taken by the Federal Ministry of Finance does not mean that the state is no longer allowed to make spending, Kühnert said on Tuesday in the ARD "Morgenmagazin". The suspension of so-called commitment appropriations means that no payment obligations for the future are possible. However, the state can cover all its current benefits.
"The Federal Ministry of Finance is stopping the commitment appropriations in 2023 in order to avoid pre-charges for future years," it was said on Monday evening from circles of the Ministry of Finance. The background to this is a ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court, which annuls the reallocation of loans amounting to 60 billion euros in the 2021 budget. They had been approved to deal with the Corona crisis, but were now to be used for climate protection and the modernisation of the economy.
Kühnert sees a need to talk about the traffic light
Asked whether a budget emergency would now have to be declared for 2023 to circumvent the debt brake, Kühnert said that this would be a possible step for the SPD if it were to govern alone. But there are other options. This would have to be discussed in the coalition. There is no point in all parties reading each other their election programmes, said the SPD general secretary. The necessity of the 60 billion euros for climate protection and the transformation of the economy has not changed. It is now necessary to find other sources of income in order not to fall behind in international competition. But what is not possible is to save the 60 billion euros with the lawnmower.
According to information from the Reuters news agency, the Federal Ministry of Finance on Monday extended the budget freeze imposed on the Climate and Transformation Fund (KTF) to almost the entire federal budget. This emerges from a letter from Budget State Secretary Werner Gatzer, which was made available to Reuters and the news magazine Spiegel in the evening.
In response to a Reuters inquiry late in the evening, the Ministry of Finance said that commitment appropriations in the current budget would be stopped in order to avoid pre-charges for coming years. "Existing liabilities will continue to be honored, but no new ones may be incurred," it was emphasized. Elsewhere in the government, it was also made clear that it was not a solo effort by Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP): "It is agreed and makes sense."
Gatzer: Review of the overall budgetary situation
Gatzer's letter states: "In order to avoid further pre-charges for future financial years, I therefore intend to block all commitment appropriations in sections 04 to 17 and 23 to 60 of the 2023 federal budget that are still available with immediate effect." Gatzer refers to Paragraph 41 of the Federal Budget Regulation, which regulates a budget freeze. The individual budgets of all ministries are affected by the above-mentioned sections. Section 60, for example, includes the Climate and Transformation Fund and the €200 billion defence shield to curb energy prices. According to the list, constitutional bodies such as the Federal President, the Bundestag, the Bundesrat and the Federal Constitutional Court are excluded.
The Federal Constitutional Court had cut 60 billion euros from the federal government on Wednesday because the transfer of unused Corona loans to the climate fund was unconstitutional. The government now lacks the money. In addition, there are further clarifications from the court on the debt brake in the Basic Law and on the legality of loans, which could also have consequences for the current 2023 budget and the planned 2024 budget. Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) had ordered a budget freeze only for the climate fund on the day the verdict was announced.