, Vienna Finance Minister Gernot Blümel: “A balanced budget is important, but health and jobs in Austria are more important!”

“The budget 2020 will not be one where I speak of a balance. It will be a budget of the bitter truth of the crisis. We will show a way to get out of the crisis together. A balanced budget is important, but health and jobs in Austria are more important,” said Finance Minister Gernot Blümel.

When the work on the 2020 budget began in January of this year, the experts at the Federal Ministry of Finance were still presuming an economic growth of 1.2 %. In February, economic researchers reported that the finance minister was “not concerned about a weakening of the economy”. Earlier last week, economists said “the economic test shows that there has been no measurable effect of the coronavirus so far”.

Gernot Blümel: “Today we are faced with a completely different situation. Italy is a restricted area, measures are being taken throughout Europe, and social life in Austria is gradually grinding to a standstill. The budget 2020 will therefore not be one where I will speak of balance. It will not be one where I will be talking about saving in the system or setting political priorities according to the government programme. It will be a budget that will express the bitter truth of the crisis in figures. And above all, it will be a budget where we make sure that we optimally help all those who are affected in and by this crisis. And we will show a way to get out of the crisis together.”

Over the last days and hours, the 2020 budget has been continuously revised to ensure three things: Sufficient money for health, for preservation and safeguarding of jobs in Austria and for people to be able to cover their fixed costs.

“This works partly through a crisis management fund, to which we are allocating € 4 bn in a first step. There will be a special law on this, which is going to be adopted soon. This fund will enable us to implement measures quickly. It is important that we secure the financing possibilities and liquidity within the companies so that as many jobs as possible can be saved in Austria,” said Blümel.

This will also be done through loan guarantees and easier access to these guarantees, especially for SMEs. In the same way, bridging loans, which are necessary in the event of particular liquidity bottlenecks, are guaranteed by the state. At the same time, tax measures and relief will be made possible by the BMF. These are tax deferrals and facilitations in the reduction of tax prepayments. It was also agreed in discussions with the banks that there will be additional loan guarantees and deferments of credit. In the area of accelerating and strengthening export promotion, guarantees will be issued through the amendment of the OeKB guidelines for coverage.