Berlin [Germany], September 1 (ANI): German Finance Minister Christian Lindner’s latest statement lays bare Germany’s poor digitalisation as the minister said that the country is unable to transfer money to citizens in need of help with their energy bills because their account numbers are not linked with their tax IDs.
At a press conference held on Wednesday following meetings at Schloss Meseberg in Brandenburg, Finance Minister Lindner was asked about proposals for a one-time payout to help lower- and middle-income households get through the winter, reported The Local, a German media portal.
A German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine’s reporter Ralph Bollmann over the country’s inability to provide energy relief payments to its citizens questioned the finance minister, “Why is that so difficult?”
Bollmann asked, “Is there the prospect of anything changing or have you given up on this completely?”
Responding to the question, Lindner asserted that it was still part of the government’s plans to pay out the money collected through the carbon emissions tax directly to citizens. “That’s not just a requirement of social justice but would also be a huge incentive to every individual to reduce their carbon footprint,” he said. “But that’s a hugely challenging plan.”
In this debate over autumn’s relief measures, it appears that the government’s plans to support citizens are now faced with a big hurdle– the creaking IT architecture in public offices and ministries.
There are many technical challenges that lie ahead for Germany to be able to go forward with this plan. So far, the Finance Ministry has worked on the legal side of the issue, changing the relevant regulations and putting through amendments to the tax code to allow for citizens’ tax IDs to be linked to their International Bank Account Number (IBANs).
At this point, according to the Finance Minister, Germany’s poor state of digitalisation will start to cause issues. “There are quite a few of us Germans, which means quite a few IBANs that must be collected,” Lindner explained.
“A few are already available, for example in social security or at the tax office. But it will take 18 months – according to the experts at the central tax office – to bring all of this data together,” he added.
Speaking on the other issues that lie ahead, the German Finance Minister said, “According to the figures that are available to me, with their current IT capabilities, the public administration would only be able to make 100,000 payments per day.”
The Free Democratic Party (FDP) politician asserted, “Think about how many Germans we are! How long would it take to transfer payments to millions at a rate of just 100,000 per day?”
The statements by the German Finance Minister have raised eyebrows and kicked off a new debate over the reeking state of digitalization in Germany. In the digital age, Government operations in Europe’s largest economy are now surrounded by questions.
In the Digital Society and Economy Index (DESI) that was published in late 2021, Germany scored number 11th in a ranking of the level of digitalisation in EU member states, putting it roughly on par with Slovenia and Lithuania.
However, Lindner pledged that the latest setbacks wouldn’t affect relief payments that are due to be made to citizens this winter – in particular, for pensioners who received less support in the last two relief packages.
Pointing to the example of the euros 300 energy allowance, which is set paid out through businesses’ payrolls and via tax rebates, the FDP politician said it was still possible for money to reach citizens via other means.
“The chancellor has said on various occasions that retirees also require support this winter,” he said. “I can entirely understand this. And there will be technically viable options for that.” (ANI)
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Source: The Print