Secret documents from the Austrian finance ministry have been leaked, forecasting the nation could take in as many as 215,000 migrants over four years. That influx could cost more than €12 billion to the Austrian taxpayer – seven times more that the annual defence budget.
The secret documents were leaked to Austrian broadcaster ORF. They forecast that if Austria admits an estimated 85,000 migrants in 2015 and a further 130,000 in 2016, it will cost around €6.5 billion over four years.
The Ministry of Finance immediately denied the figures in the leaked documents.
When the expenditure figure included primary care as well as guaranteed minimum income, health and integration measures and possible family reunion, it could double, reaching a possible €12.3 billion, the documents reveal. That’s around 3.76 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP).
The leaked figures are significantly higher than previous official estimates, and are based on a projected 25,000 positive asylum applications per year, The Local reports.
For comparison, the annual budget for Austria’s Defense Ministry in 2015 stands at around €1.8 billion, which amounts to 0.55 percent of GDP.
The country sits on the so-called Balkans land route, after Hungary, into Europe from the Middle East. In September alone almost 200,000 migrants arrived, 8,000 of whom applied for asylum there. The interior ministry has said it expects a total of 80,000 asylum applications over the year.
The conservative People’s Party (ÖVP) of Austria has recently argued in favour of only granting refugees “limited asylum,” and restricting the process of family reunification.
Austria’s anti-mass migration Freedom Party of Austria (FPÖ) doubled its vote share and number of seats in Monday’s state elections in Upper Austria, the country’s leading industrial region.
The leader of the ÖVP in Upper Austria, Josef Pühringer, told ORF television: “Today’s election was not about Upper Austria, but about one topic only, namely asylum, the winners amplified the understandable fears and concerns of the people.”