- How does Germany get its economy up and running again? Verdi boss Frank Werneke has many suggestions.
- One idea is called consumer checks. Citizens could receive up to 500 euros in shopping money, he told the Handelsblatt.
- Werneke, on the other hand, doesn’t think much of a classic car premium. His proposal would also favor local public transport and e-bikes.
Which measure will get the German economy up and running again? Frank Werneke, chairman of the German service union Verdi, has many ideas. One of them: consumer checks, i.e. money for shopping. Werneke is participating in a video conference with Chancellor Angela Merkel this Monday with other trade unionists and business associations.
“Because shops, restaurants and cultural institutions are slowly opening again, now is the time to talk about consumer checks,” the Verdi boss told the “Handelsblatt”. He also brought in quite a substantial sum: 500 euros, at least for low and medium incomes. With higher earnings, the amount should melt “so that the financial dimension does not become too large”.
Verdi boss wants mobility instead of car premium
The concept is controversial. On the one hand, a consumer check would be expensive for the state and would consume several billion euros. On the other hand, economists doubt that a check actually makes citizens much more interested in shopping. They point out that it is not necessarily a lack of purchasing power, but the continuing fear of corona infection and newly introduced hurdles such as the requirement to wear a mask would spoil the business.
Read also: Off to return to normality: Movement data show that the German retail trade is facing a completely different fate this year
In any case, the German auto industry would prefer a different premium. It calls for government funding to buy new cars. Werneke doesn’t think much of that. “On the other hand, we are to prefer a mode of transport and to support with thousands of euros,” he told the “Handelsblatt”. “Instead, we want a mobility premium roughly equivalent to a job ticket, which can then be used for local public transport, an e-bike, a bicycle, or even the purchase of an electric car.”
6 figures that show the extent of the corona crisis for the German economy
2. 36,605 KfW applications approved
The state development bank KfW claims to have received more than 38,000 corona applications. These are exclusively loan aids, mainly for medium and large companies. The bank approved at least 36,605 of them, the paper said. The volume distributed so far is 19.3 billion euros.
The government separately pledged guarantees totaling around 1.3 billion euros for unspecified large companies. Six further applications worth around 1.5 billion euros are in progress, according to the government document.
3. 11.8 percent drop in goods exports
Goods exports slumped sharply in March, 11.8 percent compared to the previous month. The paper refers to figures from the Federal Statistical Office. Exports to euro countries such as Italy, France and Spain were particularly affected. Figures for the April lockdown month are not yet available, but are likely to be even worse.
5. 37 percent decline in loan agreements
Have the Germans become risk-averse? In any case, compared to the previous year, there was a sharp decline in new loan contracts for private customers, namely by up to 37 percent per week compared to the previous year, the paper said. The data come from the Federal Statistical Office.
6. 3,822 hotline calls to the Ministry in one week
Finally, a number for gourmets. At the beginning of the crisis, the Federal Ministry of Economics set up its own corona hotlines. And they were used quite a bit. At the peak, in the first week of lockdown (March 23-29), there were 3,822 calls. Means: The phone rang on average every three minutes.
Since then the calls have been steadily decreasing. Last week there were only 560.
And what did the callers want to know? The focus was on how to apply, questions about KfW loans, in particular options for extending the term and problems of small business owners with landlords or suppliers.