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Austrian Minister of Finance Under Fire

Published: February 5, 2014; 11:41 · (Vindobona)

Christoph Leitl, President of the Austrian Chamber of Economics, criticizes the Austrian government sharply. Minister of Finance Michael Spindelegger is put on the defensive.

Austrian Minister of Finance Under Fire / Picture: © Flickr / The Austrian Foreign Ministry

During the election campaign in 2013, Deputy Chancellor and head of ÖVP Michael Spindelegger repeatedly promised to cut taxes. In December 2013, Spindelegger replaced Maria Fekter as Minister of Finance. However, instead of a tax cut, the government resolved a number of tax hikes. Above all, representatives of the Austrian industries criticized the government plans sharply.

Two months later, criticism did not fall silent. Christoph Leitl, head of WKÖ (Austrian Chamber of Economics) criticized his own party (Austrian People´s Party - ÖVP) sharply. “The Austrian People´s Party only gives excuses and refers permanently to the coalition partner (Austrian Social Democrats – SPÖ). But I do not accept such excuses anymore.”

Above all, Leitl misses reforms and innovations. For the Austrian economy, the tax burden has become barely acceptable. Nevertheless, the government remains inactive, Leitl added. In the past six years, the tax quota was up from 42% to 45%. No other country in the Eurozone has such high taxes.

According to Leitl, high civil servants are playing their own games in the Ministry of Finance. “They often warn insistently of new measures in order to avoid any reforms.” Spindelegger did not manage to crack this system yet, Leitl said. “He is a prisoner in his own ministry.”