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German govt. to spend over €2 billion on buildings — report

Saim Dušan Inayatullah
April 8, 2023

A report by Germany's t-online claims the German government is planning to spend around €2.1 billion on expensive renovations and new office space for government employees.

German flags at half-mast at Bundestag and Chancellery
Berlin is allocating €2.1 billion to the renovation and expansion of government buildings, according to a media reportImage: Abdulhamid Hosbas/AA/picture alliance

The German government is planning construction projects that could cost at least €2.1 billion ($2.3 billion), according to the t-online news portal.

Renovation is planned for the buildings of the Chancellery, the Finance Ministry, the Environment Ministry and the Bundestag Visitors' Center.

Most of the construction is geared towards creating additional office space for new government employees, according to t-online. The news portal reported that the German government has added 700 civil servant posts since the start of the current mandate in December 2021.

How much are the construction projects going to cost?

The latest estimate for the cost of the renovation of the Bundestag Visitors' Center is around €200 million, t-online reported.

Additionally, a new, large arch-shaped building is being added to the Chancellery, costing around €777 million. It is reportedly set to house about 400 offices and include a kindergarten and a helipad.

Finance Minister Christian Lindner of the Free Democrats (FDP) recently suggested building "affordable housing" instead.

Another €13 million is earmarked for an office building which will be used by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his staff while his usual residence undergoes renovation.

A plan for the expansion of the Environment Ministry is set to cost €240 million. Employees of the Berlin House of Representatives are set to be moved there.

A new ministerial building is set to be built in central Berlin, costing €200 million. Another 12 buildings are set to be built for government employees in Bonn, the former capital of West Germany, which still functions as a base for some parts of the federal government.

A Finance Ministry spokesperson told t-online that the projects were being re-examined since the COVID-19 pandemic due to the reduced need for office space.

Lindner points to budget deficit

Lawmakers from the conservative bloc of the Christian Democrats (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have voiced their opposition to the continued construction.

CSU Secretary-General Martin Huber accused the government of "squandering billions" on what he called "unnecessary show-off projects."

Christian Haase, the conservative bloc's budgetary spokesperson, said that Germany's federal budget was facing a "structural imbalance."

"Where it's justifiable, a construction freeze should not be taboo," he said.

Also on Saturday, Finance Minister Christian Lindner told the Rheinische Post newspaper that Berlin will need to introduce austerity measures.

"Politicians have to relearn to manage with the money that the citizens generate," said Lindner.

The minister said that Germany will have a budget deficit of €14-18 billion next year, with revenues of €424 billion.

Lindner said that every single budget allocation would have to be discussed and justified amid the deficit.

In response to the comments, SPD budgetary spokesperson Dennis Rohde told the DPA news agency: "What money is spent on in Germany is ultimately decided by the German parliament and not by the finance minister."

Germany's government — which is made up of Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and Lindner's FDP — is behind schedule on deciding on a budget for 2024 due to factional disagreements within the coalition.

German Press Agency material contributed to this report.

Edited by: Darko Janjevic