Schroeder to unveil economic measures for jobs
16 March 2005, BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will on Thursday unveil measures to stimulate Germany's economy and ease record unemployment in a major speech to parliament, a government spokesman said.
16 March 2005
BERLIN - Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder will on Thursday unveil measures to stimulate Germany's economy and ease record unemployment in a major speech to parliament, a government spokesman said.
The spokesman, Bela Anda, declined to give any details of what the Chancellor would propose and sought to play down German media hyping of the speech and a subsequent meeting of Schroeder with opposition leaders.
"I tried last week to dampen your expectations," said Anda at a news briefing.
The measures are expected to include tax cuts for business aimed at Germany's Mittelstand (small and medium-sized companies) which are seen as most likely to create new jobs.
But Anda dismissed speculation on the speech as a mix of "wishes, half-truths and speculation."
The Chancellor will outline a continuation of his Agenda 2010 programme, said Anda. The Agenda 2010 is a series of reforms pushed through by Schroeder from 2002 to 2004 including tax cuts and reductions in Germany's unemployment benefits.
Schroeder will need backing of Germany's opposition conservatives, who control parliament's upper chamber, in order to win approval for any new major reforms.
He will thus meet on Thursday evening with Christian Democratic Union leader Angela Merkel and Christian Social Union (CSU) leader and Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber. Also taking part in the meeting will be Greens Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer.
Anda underlined that Schroeder's speech should be seen as the basis for negotiations with the opposition on joint action to tackle Germany's jobs misery.
Unemployment is currently 12.6 percent with 5.2 million people jobless - the highest rate since 1933 when Adolf Hitler took power.
The German economy, which grew by 1.6 percent last year after three years of stagnation, is slowing with some analysts predicting meagre 0.6 percent growth for 2005. The government is sticking to its projection of 1.6 percent GDP growth this year.
Subject: German news