Germany plans to use its budget surplus to cover the costs of taking in so many refugees
Berlin - AFP
Germany clocked up a bigger-than-expected budget surplus of 12.1 billion euros ($13 billion) in 2015, which it plans to use to cover the costs of taking in so many refugees, the finance ministry said Wednesday.
"Thanks to the favourable economic trend and our forward-looking budget policy, the government has set aside a provision of 12.1 billion euros," said Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.
"We will urgently need this provision to finance the additional costs of accommodating and integrating the refugees," Schaeuble said.
Originally, Berlin had said it would set aside 5.0 billion euros to cover the costs of the refugee crisis.
"This year, too, we don't want take up any new debt, if possible," Schaeuble said.
Germany registered 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, with refugees from war-torn Syria making up almost 40 percent of arrivals.
It was the second year in a row that Europe's biggest economy has achieved a balanced budget, or what it terms a "black zero" in its public finances.
The ministry said that government spending amounted to 299.3 billion euros in 2015, 2.6 billion euros lower than expected.
At the same time, revenues totalled 311.4 billion euros, or 4.5 billion euros more than the government had anticpated.
Tax revenues alone came in 1.6 billion euros higher than expected at 281.7 billion euros.
The ministry said that, measured against gross domestic product (GDP), the government's underlying or "structural" surplus stood at 0.1 percent.
Under EU rules, member states are now allowed to run up public deficits in excess of 3.0 percent of GDP and are obliged to target a balanced budget or even a surplus in the longer-term.