Overcoming the coronavirus crisis – Federal Minister Altmaier: “Place the economy back on a path of sustainable growth as soon as possible”

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Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier discussed the current economic situation of companies with representatives from 35 business associations in video conferences yesterday and today. In addition to the presidents of the umbrella associations, attendees of the video conferences also included the presidents of the associations representing SMEs, family-run businesses and the liberal professions and of the associations of the sectors that are particularly badly hit by the coronavirus crisis, including trade, logistics, the hospitality industry and the tourism sector. The talks were a follow-up to the dialogue between the Minister and representatives from associations that was launched on 17 April.

In addition to bridging assistance for companies that are particularly badly affected by the coronavirus crisis, the talks focussed on the additional measures of the forward-looking stimulus package which the Coalition Committee adopted on 3 June. The response of the majority of the business associations to the Coalition decision to take the measures, some of which were launched today by the Cabinet, was positive. At the same time, the representatives pointed out where they saw a need for fine-tuning – for example when it comes to cutting red tape.

Economic Affairs Minister Peter Altmaier said:
“The positive response of the business associations shows that we are putting the right policies in place by adopting the measures in the context of our forward-looking stimulus package. It is now important to rapidly implement the measures adopted so that the economy can return to a path of sustainable growth as soon as possible and remain competitive.”

Mr Hans Peter Wollseifer, President of the German Confederation of Skilled Crafts (ZDH), said:
“The stimulus package is a good mix of instruments to tackle the crisis, strengthen the economy and secure the future. It is now important to implement it in a quick and unbureaucratic way so that it can contribute effectively to the recovery and transformation of our economy. If both recovery and transformation are to succeed, we will need well-trained skilled workers now and in the future. Our businesses are aware of this, and therefore vocational training continues to be at the top of their agendas in spite of the difficult situation. The vocational training premium acknowledges the work of enterprises which offer training places. It sets an important signal of motivation that will pay off on the training and labour market.”

Mr Ingo Kramer, President of the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations (BDA), said:
“The federal government has acted swiftly and with determination by adopting the stimulus package. I expressly welcome it, although I regard the total volume as very high at this early stage. It is now important to restore the trust and confidence of our businesses. Capping social insurance contributions to 40% until the end of 2021, reducing the value-added tax and offering the possibility of tax loss carryback are the right measures. But a ‘policy without money’ can also provide momentum to the economy. For example, it is important to postpone or rather delete outdated open issues of the Coalition Agreement, such as a right to work from home and the limitation of fixed-term employment. The plan to adopt an Act on supply chains which would hold companies liable even though they have no knowledge of or possibilities to influence the entire production chains also simply is not practicable. Rather, we urgently need to effectively cut red tape and rapidly implement the reform of the planning legislation.”

Mr Achim Berg, President of Bitkom e.V., said:
“The federal government has recognised the signs of the time and given the green light for a digital Germany. A third of the 57 measures of the stimulus package refers to the digital economy – ranging from investment in artificial intelligence to faster digitisation in education and administration, and practical digitisation assistance for SMEs. This is how we can reinforce and maintain the digital momentum resulting from the coronavirus crisis after the end of the crisis. It is now important that companies quickly receive funding so that it can have a broad-based impact – and that there will be some fine-tuning, for example to improve support for working from home.”