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Growth is crucial: Martin Kocher: Don't talk about austerity packages immediately after the crisis

Growth is crucial: Martin Kocher: Don’t talk about austerity packages immediately after the crisis

“In the medium term, of course, the national debt will have to be reduced again, but that is less acute than after the financial crisis.”

9:05 a.m., March 21, 2021

Labor Minister Martin Kocher © APA / HELMUT FOHRINGER

Labor Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP), who was head of the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) before taking up his ministerial office in January, sees the question of who the Cost of the corona crisis should not pay, as he explained in an interview with the Austria Press Agency (APA).

“After the financial crisis, it was seen that the national debt automatically decreases in part through growth if you have the deficits under control. We are at the same level of national debt as after the financial crisis, the national debt has not risen immeasurably,” said the Labor Minister. In the medium term, of course, the national debt will have to be reduced again, but that is less acute than after the financial crisis because interest rates are currently lower. “We have a certain amount of leeway, it won’t be permanent, but there is leeway.”

“The money is in the economic cycle”

In the corona crisis, the state spent a lot of money to secure income through aid measures for companies and employees – in contrast to the financial crisis, where state aid was used to plug gaps in the balance sheet, according to Kocher. “The money is in the economic cycle, not enough is being spent at the moment because there is uncertainty and official closings.” There are therefore some arguments in favor of a steeper rise in the economy after the pandemic than after the financial crisis. “Then there is perhaps no great need to think about paying crisis costs quickly and directly. It would not be good for the economy if we were to discuss tax increases or austerity packages immediately after the crisis, if there is a slight upturn.” said the Minister of Labor. It is about coming out in line with the economic cycle and then we will see where we will be in one or two years. “Then the discussion will either be obsolete or we will have to lead it.”

For transparency in wages and salaries

Kocher would have no problem with wage and salary transparency. “For me personally there is little that speaks against transparency,” he said. “As far as the wage gap between women and men is concerned, further considerations are needed. Income transparency is one aspect.” At his previous job at the IHS, the income report was always published on the intranet. Income reports show the differences in wages between men and women. “It’s about companies discussing the topic. With small companies, however, this is sometimes difficult because of data protection.” Kocher’s own income remained more or less constant when he moved from the IHS to the government, he told the APA.

The division of the home office package into a tax and labor law part in parliament was simply practicable and had no substantive reason. “The tax part has retroactive effect and the labor law part is expected to be decided in parliament next week and will apply from April 1st.”

Asylum seekers: waiting for the highest court

When asked about the recent ex officio examination of two decrees of his predecessors, which asylum seekers were only allowed to work as seasonal workers during the asylum procedure and were denied access to apprenticeships, Kocher now wants to wait for the decision of the highest court. “Then we will look at how we deal with it. I think it is important to point out that a relatively large number of those entitled to asylum and subsidiary protection are unemployed. It is our priority to get them into work.”

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