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BUDGET

Mega budget surplus is Germany’s best since 1990

Germany ran up a record surplus in its public finances in 2015, with Europe's biggest economy showing "solid and consistent" growth last year, the federal statistics office said on Tuesday.

Mega budget surplus is Germany's best since 1990
Photo: DPA

Germany notched up an overall surplus of €19.4 billion on its public budgets last year, “which in absolute terms is the highest since unification” in 1990, the office said in a statement.

Measured against gross domestic product (GDP), the surplus amounted to 0.6 percent of overall output, the statisticians calculated.

In 2014, Germany had achieved a surplus of €8.9 billion or 0.3 percent of GDP.

Under eurozone rules, member states are not allowed to run up deficits in excess of 3.0 percent of GDP and are obliged to bring them into balance or surplus in the medium term.

Last year was the second year in a row that Germany's public finances have been firmly in the black.

At the same time, the statistics office confirmed a preliminary estimate that the economy expanded by 0.3 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, the same rate of growth as in the third quarter.

“The economic situation in Germany in 2015 was characterised by solid and consistent growth,” the office said.

Across the whole year, GDP grew by 1.7 percent.

“Positive impulses came primarily from domestic demand,” Destatis said.

Public spending increased by 1.0 percent in the fourth quarter and household spending edged up by 0.2 percent.

In addition, investment increased with construction investment expanding by 2.2 percent over the three-month period and investment in equipment rising by 1.0 percent, driven primarily by public investment.

By contrast, foreign trade had a dampening effect on fourth-quarter growth with exports falling by 1.7 percent and imports slipping by 0.6 percent, Destatis calculated.

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MONEY

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Italy's government will extend its proposed one-time €200 benefit to more people and introduce a €60 public transport payment, Italian media reported on Thursday.

Italy expands €200 payment scheme and introduces public transport bonus

Seasonal workers, domestic and cleaning staff, the self-employed, the unemployed and those on Italy’s ‘citizens’ income’ will be added to the categories of people in Italy eligible for a one-off €200 payment, ministers reportedly announced on Thursday evening.

The one-time bonus, announced earlier this week as part of a package of financial measures designed to offset the rising cost of living, was initially set to be for pensioners and workers on an income of less than €35,000 only.

However the government has now agreed to extend the payment to the additional groups following pressure from Italy’s labour, families, and regional affairs ministers and representatives of the Five Star Movement, according to news agency Ansa.

Pensioners and employees will reportedly receive the €200 benefit between June and July via a direct payment into their pension slip or pay packet.

For other groups, a special fund will be created at the Labour Ministry and the procedures for claiming and distributing payments detailed in an incoming decree, according to the Corriere della Sera news daily.

One new measure introduced at the cabinet meeting on Thursday is the introduction of a one-time €60 public transport bonus for students and workers earning below €35,000. The bonus is reportedly designed to encourage greater use of public transport and will take the form of an e-voucher that can be used when purchasing a bus, train or metro season pass.

Other provisions reportedly proposed in the energy and investment decree (decreto energia e investimenti), which is still being adjusted and amended, include extending energy bill discounts, cutting petrol excise duty and rolling on the deadline to claim Italy’s popular ‘superbonus 110’.

The €14 billion aid package, intended to lessen the economic impact of the war in Ukraine, will “fight the higher cost of living” and is “a temporary situation”, Prime Minister Mario Draghi has said.

The Local will report further details of the payment scheme once they become available following final approval of the decree.

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