BERLIN, Sept 2 It is not yet certain Germany can
refrain from any net new borrowing in 2015 as set down in its
draft federal budget, a senior lawmaker from Chancellor Angela
Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) said on Tuesday.
Norbert Barthle, budget committee leader for the CDU, warned
that official data on Monday showing a federal surplus of 4
billion euros in the first half of 2014 - Germany's first since
1991 - was just a preliminary result.
Reports about surpluses running into the billions ignored
the role of one-off effects or the fact this surplus was already
factored in, he said. He also warned that crises abroad could
have negative economic effects.
The Bundesbank's billions in profit, a shrinking interest
burden and high employment were key factors in the surplus.
"Even if the first half of this year went well for Germany
as a whole and for the federal government, no one should be
misled: this is a pleasing intermediate result which does not
give any scope to spend more in the coming year," Barthle said
after a meeting of the ruling coalition's budget experts.
"We have not reached our goal yet," he said, adding the
government would, however, do everything it could to put a stop
to net new borrowing next year.
Germany is under pressure from European partners like France
and Italy to spend more to help bolster economic growth and
job-creation in Europe and allow greater fiscal leeway.
Barthle said the 2015 budget would undergo changes in
parliamentary consultations and would be adjusted to reflect
economic developments and current political events.
But he said: "If there are opportunities to increase
investment, we will take them."
In the first half of the year Germany's overall budget
surplus, which groups federal, state and local governments and
the social security system, was the biggest since reunification.
The finance ministry expects 6.5 billion euros of net new
borrowing in 2014 but plans no net new borrowing next year for
the first time since 1969.
Merkel said last week she favoured debt redemption at
federal level after the state of Saxony paid back some debts,
but she toned this down on Monday, saying she did not expect
this before the end of her current term in 2017.
(Reporting by Matthias Sobolewski; Writing by Michelle Martin;
Editing by Stephen Brown and Tom Heneghan)