In Brief: Germany pushes new debt to record high level to fund its way out of COVID-19 pandemic

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said years of responsible fiscal behavior is why Germany can afford to borrow now.

By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Kate Brady

Debt-averse Germany has decided to dig an even deeper hole to rejuvenate its economy decimated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The additional budget approved by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s federal cabinet yesterday pushes up overall new borrowing to a record 218.5 billion euros.

Reciting a line from a 1983 pop song, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told reporters: “Now we are gonna spit in our hands, we are increasing the gross national product.”

Scholz has overseen Germany’s journey from EU austerity advocate to one of the biggest spenders trying to help the bloc rebound. He said years of responsible fiscal behavior is why Germany can afford to borrow now.

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Federal Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner, meanwhile, wants some German pets to be tested for COVID-19.

Klöckner recently told reporters that pets sneezing or struggling to breathe in households with confirmed coronavirus cases need to be tested.

The data would be passed on to the World Organization for Animal Health and the EU Commission for tracking and further research into how COVID-19 affects animals.

Klöckner said that evidence to date has not shown pets transmitting the coronavirus to humans. But researchers have not ruled out the possibility.

The new, pet-testing rule is to be voted on by Germany’s upper house of parliament early next month.

 

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