The moment of truth for the federal budget is approaching, next Tuesday the Bundestag will begin its deliberations.

Because of a bereavement in the family, Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) will not present the figures himself; Parliamentary State Secretary Florian Toncar (FDP) will do that.

The budget spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Otto Fricke, is expecting the "toughest and most extensive budget deliberations since 2002", as he put it in the interview.

He gives three reasons.

First, Corona has after-effects.

Secondly, the third relief package has not really been taken into account.

Third, there have been major changes in economic growth and inflation since the cabinet decision.

Manfred Schaefers

Business correspondent in Berlin.

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Before the MPs will debate the traffic light plans for a total of four days next week, the Federal Court of Auditors has analyzed the financial planning - and is sounding the alarm.

In his September 1 report to the Bundestag Budget Committee, he criticized that "budget-volatile" expenditure distorted the picture: "Contrary to what is presented in the budget and in the financial planning, federal expenditure, including the special funds, remains highly expansive."

Disguised borrowing has several causes

On top of that.

As the auditors point out, real federal borrowing is four times higher than projected in the bill passed by the Cabinet before the summer recess.

The number 17.2 billion euros for 2023 is printed in bold under the key data.

Between 12 and 14 billion euros are planned for the following years.

This corresponds to the regular upper limit according to the debt rule in the Basic Law.

For the Federal Court of Auditors, this is at best half the truth.

In addition to the reported new debt, the federal government is taking out other loans on a large scale, he emphasizes.

"As a result of various decisions, they do not appear in the federal budget, although they result in further net borrowing."

The disguised borrowing has several causes.

Surprisingly, this also includes the use of the reserve.

When the federal government made surpluses between 2015 and 2019, it used them to replace loans that were less due with new ones.

There is therefore no money in an account.

"Completely non-transparent

Rather, the reserve is a kind of credit authorization without an expiration date – and without later consideration in the debt rule.

Next year, the traffic light wants to use the largest part, 40.5 billion of the 48.2 billion euros.

The loan requirements of the special funds are also not taken into account within the framework of the debt rule.

The reason is the changed booking practice, now it is about the allocations to the sub-budgets, no longer about the time of borrowing.

Finally, the Bundeswehr special fund was designed in such a way that its loans are exempt from the debt rule.

According to the government's plans, the federal government will incur new debt of at least 78.2 billion euros in 2023, writes the Court of Auditors.

The independent authority calls this “real borrowing”.

She urges more transparency.

The government refuses.

The Treasury refers to the traditionally included loan financing plan.

But according to the independent authority, it is not enough to list crucial information in different places.

"The federal budget is completely non-transparent due to the new booking rule for special funds introduced by the traffic light," criticizes Union parliamentary group Vice Mathias Middelberg.

In addition to the officially reported expenditure in a budget year, there would be amounts of unknown magnitude, he told the FAZ. "The Federal Court of Auditors criticizes this, and we criticize it with our lawsuit in Karlsruhe."

"Unfortunately, he doesn't."