Blümel: "We will return to a sound fiscal policy" Finance Minister Gernot Blümel visits Austrian Treasury and praises the professionalism of its work during the coronavirus crisis
With a double budget for 2018 and 2019, Austria's then federal government initiated a turnaround, ending deficit spending after a period of over 60 years. As a result, public debt was successfully reduced from a high of 84.9% of GDP in 2015, to 70.5% in 2019. "At the time, we showed that both are possible – reducing Austria's debt and at the same time reducing the burden on taxpayers. But as for how important our sound fiscal policy really was, this was ultimately demonstrated during the coronavirus crisis, since only due to the responsible fiscal policies of preceding years did the necessary fiscal scope exist in 2020 and 2021 to enable active assistance to be provided in these exceptional circumstances," stresses Blümel during his Treasury visit.
As a result of the solid fiscal policy of recent years, during the coronavirus pandemic numerous businesses and, as a result, many jobs in Austria, could be saved. Blümel continues: "Unlike many other countries, thanks to our sound fiscal policy, we were well equipped and had a huge advantage; as a result of our excellent credit rating we were able to obtain refunding on the capital market swiftly and at favourable terms, and thereby raise the necessary funds to protect our country from the worst. This is in no small measure also due to the excellent work of the Austrian Treasury."
The past one and a half years have been exceptional, and the challenges could only be overcome through the common, interconnected action taken by all institutions. As a result of the unique Europe-wide assistance packages which Austria too was swift to set up, naturally the country's debt ratio has grown, and at the end of 2020 totalled 83.9% of GDP. Before a steady reduction in the debt ratio begins, it can be expected to grow further in 2021. "Over the coming years, we will return to our consolidation path. Favourable financing terms should not be perceived as allowing free rein when it comes to acquiring new debts, since our aim is to be optimally equipped to deal with any future crises," concludes Minister Blümel.