Finance Minister Christian Lindner (FDP) introduced the draft of the 2024 federal budget to the Bundestag on Tuesday. In the ZDF “Heute Journal” he defended his figures. The debt brake is not synonymous with savings. It is also necessary to set priorities: “Investments in infrastructure, in digitization, in the modernization of our economies. We are doing that. We have planned investments at a record level for the next few years,” he said. “So we decide: What is really necessary? And what is expendable?”

The guard rails are clear: “One guard rail means: the debt brake applies. And the other guard rail is that we want to avoid tax increases. (…) We must not fuel inflation with ever new government spending that is debt-financed. Of course it’s a difficult process, but we overcame it,” said Lindner.

“It’s about acknowledging financial realities”

He had already emphasized the need for a change in budgetary policy when the draft budget for 2024 was presented in the Bundestag. “It’s now about acknowledging financial realities after years when money didn’t seem to matter,” he said. Lindner made it clear that the 2024 budget should only be the beginning of a consolidation of state finances. The opposition criticized the draft.

Accordingly, the federal government’s spending should be 445.7 billion euros next year – more than 30 billion less than this year. New debt is expected to amount to 16.6 billion euros, around 30 billion less than this year. This is intended to comply with the debt brake anchored in the Basic Law, which only provides for new debt to a very limited extent.

The budget plans of the individual departments will be discussed in the first reading until Friday. Defense, foreign affairs and transport are also on the agenda on Wednesday. As things stand, the overall budget should be passed on December 1st.