Industrialists backSchroeder reforms

16th June 2004, Comments 0 comments

16 June 2004, BERLIN - Germany's top industry lobby group backed embattled German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in reform efforts, while advising the Berlin leader that the changes must go even deeper.

16 June 2004

BERLIN - Germany's top industry lobby group backed embattled German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in reform efforts, while advising the Berlin leader that the changes must go even deeper.

The advice came at the annual congress of the powerful Federation of German Industry (BDI), with Schroeder himself appearing to vow he would continue to pursue his "Agenda 2010" reform programme.

BDI President Michael Rogowski told the chancellor industrialists were counting on him to carry out reforms and promised industry's support, but said the reforms must be farther-reaching than those propounded by the government.

"We are still restricting ourselves to carrying out repairs on the existing system," Rogowski said. "But what we partly need are entirely new systems."

What is urgently needed are a reduction of the state sector's debts, cutting back the state share of the economy, and lowering wage costs.

"We must work longer, retire later, and pay more of our retirement pension out of our own pockets," Rogowski said about the reform sacrifices which Germans must face.

The remarks came two days after Schroeder's Social Democrats were crushed in European and state elections in a wave of voter dissatisfaction, much of it stirred by the government's reforms.

Schroeder told the BDI congress that he would fight further for his reform agenda, and dismissed opposition claims that his Social Democrat-Greens government's days were numbered.

He would continue in his job until 2006, the chancellor said, and "some people may be surprised ... One who battles might lose, but one who does not fight has already lost."

The Berlin leader said that Germany needed the reforms due to the demands posed by globalisation and out of responsibility to future generations.

"Finding an answer to globalisation means changing internally," Schroeder said about the sacrifices the government was seeking from the population.

Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski, as guest speaker at the BDI congress, appealed to German industry to become more greatly engaged in his country. Germany was Poland's top trade partner, but ranked only fourth in direct investments, he pointed out.

DPA

Subject: German news

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