Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble has made it clear in budget negotiations with coalition partners that the 13 billion euro surplus will not be spent on anything except migrants.
While many government projects promised in the coalition agreement are being suspended, government departments which can claim their own spending is benefiting migrants stand to receive significant cash boosts. Minister Schäuble has expressed worry that the spending my lack focus and end up creating giant amounts of waste saying, “we in the federal government, in the context of wanting to act as quickly as possible, may lose the viewpoint of efficiency”, reports Die Welt.
The coalition partners see the situation differently. Vice chancellor and leader of the Socialist party Sigmar Gabriel wants to spend far more money on programs for migrants, beyond even that in the current budget. Gabriel would like to see more currently planned projects funded in case they need to pay further billions later on when more migrants arrive making integration much more expensive.
The minister for labour Andrea Nahles also has her eye on the surplus, requesting up to half a billion euros claiming her department needs the money to fund 100,000 so called “one-euro” jobs for asylum seekers. The minister also requested more funding for the German out of work benefit funds saying, “we can not take away the money for the long term unemployed”.
The minister suggested to take benefit money away from the long term unemployed to pay for recent migrants would only pass ammunition to parties like the AfD. She said they would take advantage of the situation by “stoking fears.”
Other ministries also want a piece of the action. Justice minister Heiko Maas of the Socialists would like to have around 20 million euros to educate migrants on the topic of “consumer protection.” Minister of the interior Thomas de Maiziere meanwhile is calling for an additional half a billion euros to fund the overworked and overstretched German federal police force.
Federal Transport minister Alexander Dobrindt says he needs funding to pay for the maintenance of existing infrastructure from roads to bridges and railways. He also mentioned that his ministry would need reimbursement from the government for the costs of transporting migrants around the country, many of whom have had totally free access to bus and train travel. German rail alone is looking for a sum in the neighbourhood of the tens of millions to pay for all the free travel migrants receive.
Sigmar Gabriel and his Socialist party have threatened to vote down the budget if many of their demands are not met for the funding of planned programs that were signed off on during the coalition agreement that formed the current government. The budget sign-off deadline is March 23rd and if it is not approved it could cause havoc in the already strained German system to cope with more incoming migrants. It could even potentially lead to a confidence vote on the leadership of chancellor Angela Merkel herself, which some have already suggested should take place .