Friday, December 2, 2022

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Habeck admits: brake on gas prices “unfair in a way”

Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck admits that the brake on gas prices was not primarily about justice. It is a “general tool”.

Federal Minister of Economic Affairs

Robert Habeck asked for understanding for the experts’ proposal for the expected gas price brake, which critics consider socially unbalanced. Asked if speed was more important than justice, the Green politician said Wednesday evening in the ARD “Tagesthemen”: “In a way, that’s how it is.”

However, he stressed that “the reverse conclusion would be even more wrong, that is: to do everything perfectly, think about every nuance of justice and then pay the money in September next year”. The vice-chancellor warned that it would be “a fatal political error”.

It’s a “flat-rate instrument,” Habeck said about the gas price brake. “It is unfair, in the sense that large consumers – who usually go hand in hand with high incomes (…) – receive the same relief as lower incomes and lower consumption,” admitted the deputy chancellor. “This must be corrected or compensated for by an active social policy”. That is why the measures of the relief packages are aimed primarily at those with lower incomes. “All in all, it should be a balanced package.”

The government-set up commission of experts unveiled a step-by-step model on Monday. In December, experts propose a one-off payment for gas customers of individuals and businesses and a price brake for a basic share of gas starting in March for these groups. According to the proposals, a brake on the price of gas should come into effect from January for the main customers of the industry.

The expert commission’s proposals were met with criticism, mainly because they should work according to the “watering can principle”. In a dissenting opinion from Commissioner and Verdi chief Frank Werneke, it was argued that the proposed gas price brake model was not sufficiently socially balanced.

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