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Christian Lindner: Is there a new budget financing law coming?

Photo: Tobias Schwarz / AFP

In the budget dispute, Christian Lindner is apparently increasing the pressure on the other ministries. According to a media report, the Federal Ministry of Finance, led by the FDP politician, sent letters to all ministries with specific specifications on how high their expenditure may be in the coming year. This is reported by the »Handelsblatt«, citing insiders.

The procedure is expected to save a high single-digit billion amount, it is said. It was agreed with Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD), the newspaper reported with reference to government circles.

Accordingly, with the exception of the Federal Ministry of Defense, all ministries must make savings. However, these apparently vary in height. According to the information, some ministries are even expected to get by with less money in 2024 than was previously provided for in the medium-term financial planning.

Will investment and social spending be cut?

The specific requirements could contradict previous plans from the Federal Ministry of Finance. As reported by SPIEGEL, Lindner had wanted to give the ministries the freedom to raise the required savings – and the requirements only concerned the so-called disposable expenditure that the ministries can freely dispose of, such as funding programs.

According to Handelsblatt, investments or social expenditures for which there are legal entitlements are still excluded for the time being. However, benefit cuts, including social spending, are no longer fundamentally excluded if the ministries do not make sufficient savings, they say.

As a result of the savings, the financial gap in the 2024 budget has not even been closed by half. Most recently, the Ministry of Finance said that around 20 billion euros were missing. "Despite the savings targets, there is still a large delta," government circles said, according to Handelsblatt.

According to the report, in the 16 letters, the Federal Ministry of Finance also called on some of the ministries to contribute concrete proposals for a planned "budget financing law". Such a law would allow Lindner to cut legally regulated spending on social welfare, but also on subsidies.