Merkel says Germany can cope with refugees without raising taxes | Reuters

BERLIN Germany can cope with a record influx of refugees this year without raising taxes and without jeopardising its balanced budget, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday. With relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, Germany is the European Union's biggest recipient of refugees fleeing war in the Middle East and economic migrants from southeastern Europe. More than 100,000 asylum seekers entered in August, and the about 800,000 refugees and migrants are expected in Germany in total this year - four times last year's level.

hidden September 05, 2015 21:46:23 IST
Merkel says Germany can cope with refugees without raising taxes
| Reuters

Merkel says Germany can cope with refugees without raising taxes
 Reuters

BERLIN Germany can cope with a record influx of refugees this year without raising taxes and without jeopardising its balanced budget, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Saturday.

With relatively liberal asylum laws and generous benefits, Germany is the European Union's biggest recipient of refugees fleeing war in the Middle East and economic migrants from southeastern Europe.

More than 100,000 asylum seekers entered in August, and the about 800,000 refugees and migrants are expected in Germany in total this year - four times last year's level.

In light of the influx, the government plans to introduce a supplementary budget to free up funds for the refugees and to help towns on the frontline that are already struggling to fund accommodation and medical care for the new arrivals.

"We cannot just say 'Because we have a difficult task now, the balanced budget or the issue of debt are no longer important'," Merkel said in her weekly video podcast.

In an interview with local newspapers, Merkel promised that Berlin would not raise taxes because of the refugee crisis.

Berlin's comfortable budgetary position is making it easier to master such "unexpected tasks", Merkel said, adding that the refugee crisis was the government's priority now.

Thanks to higher-than-expected tax revenues, Berlin could have leeway for extra public spending of up to 5 billion euros this year, officials have said.

SERIES OF MEASURES

Merkel's coalition is expected to agree on a series of measures on Sunday, including cutting red tape to facilitate the construction of asylum shelters, increasing funds for federal states and towns, and speeding up asylum procedures.

The agenda will include widening the list of countries deemed 'safe', meaning that their citizens have no claim to asylum, probably to include Kosovo, Albania and Montenegro. Among those already deemed safe are Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia.

Germany has this year deported more than 10,000 migrants who were denied permission to stay, many of them from western Balkan countries such as Serbia and Macedonia - around the same number as for the whole of 2014, the magazine Der Spiegel said.

The head of the Federal Agency of Migration and Refugees, Manfred Schmidt, told the magazine that over 75,000 asylum requests filed by migrants from western Balkan countries would be processed by the end of 2015, and most were likely to be rejected.

Merkel repeated her call to distribute the refugees more equally across EU member states as part of a common strategy, saying: "The whole system needs to be redesigned."

Austria and Germany have thrown open their borders to thousands of exhausted migrants who have been bussed to the border by a right-wing Hungarian government that had tried to stop them but was overwhelmed by the numbers.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the agreement between Hungary, Austria and Germany was an exception. A government spokesman said no decision had been made on when it would expire.

(Additional reporting by Hans-Edzard Busemann; Editing by Angus MacSwan and Kevin Liffey)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

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