Merkel warns of tough economic year ahead
Merkel: ‘We all know it -- we have a year full of challenges before us.’
Berlin -- German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday warned her country of tough times in 2009 but hinted at a new stimulus package in January to stave off job cuts.
"We all know it: We have a year full of challenges before us," Merkel said in a video message. "Each day brings news of companies' difficult economic situation. There will be much to do and we will need help from everyone."
The German leader, who has faced criticism that her government has not done enough to battle the economic crisis, said the state would "take a further step in January."
New support measures "must be carefully prepared, because we want to act precisely where jobs can be maintained or created," she said.
Der Spiegel magazine reported on its Internet site Friday that Germany is set to adopt a second economic support package worth 40 billion euros (57 billion dollars).
A 12 billion-euro package has already been announced by the government but economic data has shown Europe's biggest economy slipping further into recession and raised pressure for new measures.
The fresh funds would be spent on public infrastructure, especially roads, schools and high-speed Internet access, as well as tax cuts and lower health insurance costs, the magazine quoted government sources as saying.
The Bild daily reported Saturday that the health insurance cost decrease would be one percent, costing about 10 billion euros.