German Federal Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer is proposing a €28-billion ($31 billion) "Investment Future Mobility" economic stimulus package to boost investments in digital infrastructure and rail transport, the Funke Media Group reported on Saturday.
A committee of Germany's governing coalition will meet on Tuesday in Berlin to debate the package, which calls for investing €8.5 billion in digitization, according to the report.
The coronavirus pandemic has showed how important a well-developed digital infrastructure is, Scheuer's proposal said, adding that it has brought to light the necessity of a sustainable expansion of broadband and mobile communications networks.
As part of the investment, €3 billion should go to the federal digital infrastructure fund, while another €5 billion would be necessary to spur a "quantum leap" in network expansion that includes expanding access to 5G networks.
Propping up rail network and public transport
Scheuer also hopes to support the railway network through "targeted and fast-acting economic stimuli," totaling €2.6 billion; €1 billion would be invested in the increased digitalization and modernization of the national railway by 2022, while €750 million would be set aside to make stations appear more attractive, and another €800 million would be earmarked to promote rail freight transport.
The state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn would also receive €5.5 billion to increase equity capital over the next two years due to a loss of revenue during the health crisis.
Scheuer has also proposed setting aside another €2.5 billion for road construction, while funneling €1.9 billion into alternative and synthetic fuels, €170 million towards financial assistance for bus companies. An additional €1.2 billion would be allocated for the improvement of waterways, while funds would also be used to expand hydrogen and fuel cell technology.
The economic crisis spurred by the pandemic has pushed German and European officials to propose a number of drastic rescue packages. Earlier this week, the European Commission proposed a €750-billion aid package that would require the unanimous agreement of all 27 member states. That plan followed a proposal put forth by France and Germany, which would see €500 billion, mostly in grants, allocated to economic recovery across Europe.
lc/sri (AFP, dpa)