German Press Review: Who Pays the Toll Bill? | Europe| News and current affairs from around the continent | DW | 18.02.2004
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German Press Review: Who Pays the Toll Bill?

Most German newspapers on Wednesday consigned themselves to commenting on the cancellation of the truck toll contract.

The Lübecker Nachrichten wondered about who is going to pay for the mess? The paper expected it to be Manfred Stolpe. The paper said Germany urgently needs a national leadership headed by the best of the best. And it doesn’t just mean the government but corporations as well.

On the other hand, the Berliner Zeitung believed Daimler Chrysler and Deutsche Telekom should be in the dock for not finishing the contract on time. The paper said both companies should pay their billion-euro bill to the government. But it warned that no amount of money could erase the damage done to Germany’s industrial image. The paper observed that among all the recent industrial setbacks, the truck toll fiasco takes the cake. This time companies not only failed technically, but proved their incompetence as reliable partners with the government.

The Berliner Kurier joined the criticism of the German industrial setup. The Berliner Kurier moaned, the "Made in Germany" label, once internationally renowned, has lost its grandeur. First it was the Trans-rapid project that never left the train station, then came the Pisa study that slammed Germany’s education system and now it’s the toll scandal.

‘Scandal’ isn’t a strong enough word to describe the truck toll failure said the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. The paper wondered why hardly anyone’s fretting about it. Even the political opposition has been hesitant. The paper said that not for a long time has something called so loudly for an investigation.

The major industries, Telekom and DaimlerChrysler, hiding behind the name Toll Collect, never really gave the impression that they wanted the project, observed the Handeslblatt. It cannot be the case that these huge enterprises wanted a multi-billion-euro contract without accepting any risks, promised unrealistic goals and then watched the management of the project collapse. On the other hand, the paper said the companies could not be blamed for not wanting to give up such a highly favourable contract. It’s a cheap shot by the government to slam the companies in an effort to divert attention from the fact that the government signed the contract while the business partners were holding all the trump cards.