Austrian government preparing economic comeback plan

The government is preparing an economic comeback plan to deal with the coronavirus crisis. This plan will be arranged into three thematic blocks: “Work”, “Greening & Digitisation” and “Location Boosting”, each of which will be centrally managed by a ministry, with the relevant ministers being responsible for the details. The goal is to return half a million people to regular employment within a year.

“It is about the goal of getting 500,000 people back into work who are currently on short-time work or unemployed,” emphasised Federal Chancellor Sebastian Kurz (ÖVP) today. To this end, there will be a package of measures which also includes elements for preparing people for the challenges of the future on the labour market, according to a paper published by the federal government.

There will also be tax relief, especially for people on lower and moderate incomes, said Kurz. This will underpin Austria as an economic location and will also be important for ensuring that working people have more money in their pocket.

The aspect of “Greening & Digitisation” is about sustainably and ecologically transforming the Austrian economy, making it fit for the competition of the future. This will require investments in climate-friendly technology and public transport, the expansion of digital services and broadband internet in rural areas, as well as making the tax system greener.

Apart from battling the crisis, the aim was “to take a broader view and think a few steps ahead,” said Vice Chancellor Werner Kogler (Greens). “We want to modernise and not just preserve, even if there are obviously many areas that will simply have to be built back up again.”

The aim is to green, digitise and regionalise. This will be done through subsidies on the one hand, but also through appropriate tax policy on the other. “It’s about providing relief in many areas, and elsewhere intervening in pricing to promote climate protection,” said Kogler.

Labour Minister Martin Kocher (ÖVP), Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler (Greens) and Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) were nominated for the comeback team. They should implement the plan in collaboration with the ministers Rudolf Anschober (Greens), Margarete Schramböck, Elisabeth Köstinger (both ÖVP) and Education Minister Heinz Faßmann (ÖVP) as well as Secretary of State Andrea Mayer (Greens) and Secretary of State Magnus Brunner (ÖVP).

The plan will kick off on Monday with a working discussion between ministers Kocher, Gewessler and Blümel at the Federal Chancellery. The entire comeback plan should be presented in the coming weeks.

It is already clear to the government that the comeback plan will comprise several components such as the EU’s Recovery Fund, as well as a range of national measures. Overall, the federal government is looking to launch a package worth several billion euros. At the same time, further funds will be made available for testing and vaccinations in the fight against the pandemic.