Finance Minister Says Germany Can’t Afford to Move Government
BONN, West Germany (AP) _ Finance Minister Theo Waigel said Sunday that a united Germany cannot afford to move its seat of government from Bonn to Berlin.
″I need, at the moment, every mark for the people, for investments and not for showcase building,″ Waigel said on the West German television program ″Bonn Direct.″
He also estimated that a supplementary budget to keep East Germany afloat the rest of this year would probably need to be ″something over 10 billion marks (about $6 billion).″
West Germany has already budgeted nearly $16 billion for this year to cover East Germany’s budget deficit.
East Germany’s economic situation grows more dire with each day as it struggles to shift from 40 years of Communism to a capitalist economy. The two Germanys merged their economies and the powerful West German mark became the official currency of both states on July 1.
More than 270,000 East Germans are out of work as businesses and factories fall to the rigors of capitalism and competition with West German producers. Some experts have predicted up to 3 million of East Germany’s 8 million workforce could ultimately lose their jobs.
All-German elections are planned for Dec. 2, but there are increasing calls for East Germany to exercise a provision of the West German Constitution for an immediate merger.
Proponents of that idea say it is the only hope to control East Germany’s economic downward spiral.
Waigel said it is necessary to differentiate between the capital and seat of government in a united Germany, according to a transcript of the program on the West German network ZDF.
He said moving the government from the West German capital Bonn to Berlin, Germany’s old capital, cannot be financed ″in the coming years.″ West Germany had not built so many government buildings in Bonn just to abandon them, he said.
East and West German negotiators have agreed Berlin will be the capital of a united nation. But they left open the question of whether the government would be located there.
Their agreement must still be ratified by both German parliaments.
Waigel, leader of the conservative Christian Social Union, the Bavarian sister party of Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Christian Democrats, called the capital fight ″completely superfluous.″
Klaus Rauen, Bonn’s deputy city manager, estimates it would cost at least $31 billion to relocate government offices and employees to Berlin.