Schroeder: reformswill go on

5th March 2004, Comments 0 comments

5 March 2004 , MUNICH - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, his government's popularity dropping amid its social welfare and labour reform agenda, vowed Friday that Berlin will continue to pursue the reforms necessary to keep Germany competitive. In Munich, meeting top industrial federation leaders, Schroeder said the changes needed in Germany were necessary to meet the international competition and because of a society getting increasingly older. Schroeder's remark came before an audience of employers an

5 March 2004

MUNICH - German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, his government's popularity dropping amid its social welfare and labour reform agenda, vowed Friday that Berlin will continue to pursue the reforms necessary to keep Germany competitive.

In Munich, meeting top industrial federation leaders, Schroeder said the changes needed in Germany were necessary to meet the international competition and because of a society getting increasingly older.

Schroeder's remark came before an audience of employers and industrial federation bosses who are demanding further cuts in corporate taxes and other costs imposed by the state, while also opposing any additional charges.

Ahead of the meeting, leading industrialists urged further tax cuts, while opposing government thinking about imposing a charge on those companies which do not provide apprenticeship training jobs.

Michael Rogowski, president of the Federation of German Industry (BDI), urged in an interview in the tabloid Bild newspaper for further tax cuts.

"If even more jobs are not to be transferred abroad, we need a further tax reform," he told the paper. At the same time, wage costs had to be reduced for companies so that Germany could produce goods more favourably.

Meanwhile amid Berlin's unpopular social welfare and labour reform efforts, the SPD's standings in the German public have fallen even further, while the conservative opposition's ratings have risen to an all-time high, according to the second television channel ZDF.

ZDF, in its weekly "political barometer" opinion poll, said that the opposition Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union (CDU/CSU) camp would win an absolute majority if general elections were held today.

The ZDF survey conducted by the Mannheim polling institute Wahlen showed that if elections were held now, the CDU/CSU was favoured by a record-high 49 percent, up 1 point from the previous poll.

At the same time, the SPD has fallen even lower in the public's esteem, with the party now backed by only 28 percent, down 1 percent. The Greens - the SPD's coalition partner in Berlin - remained unchanged in the public's favour, at 10 percent.

The poll also showed that this week's disarray in the CDU/CSU camp over selecting a candidate for the next German president had done no damage to the conservatives' standing - for the simple reason that many Germans do not consider the presidency an important issue.

The ZDF noted that the wrangling in the conservative opposition camp this week over a presidential candidate had done little harm to the CDU/CSU, because the poll showed that only 52 percent of the people considered the presidency issue an important one. Forty-seven percent said the issue is not important.

DPA
Subject: German news

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