Vienna, 15 December 2011 Fekter: "We are putting together an austerity package and not a tax package" Initial overview before Christmas – Package should be ready in early January and approved in February

Finance Minister Dr. Maria Fekter has rejected speculation over tax increases forming part of Austria's austerity package. "We are putting together an austerity package through which we aim to save around two billion euro in the coming year – and not a tax package," stressed Fekter. The austerity package is to be ready by the beginning of January, and Fekter expects to have an initial overview before Christmas.

"We need reforms and structural changes taking us on a long-term austerity path. Just scraping together money over the short term is not enough," declared Fekter. "Through reforms, we will be able to start making considerable savings next year already, for instance through positive measures to curb early retirement and abolish golden handshakes. That could take effect as early as next year," added the Minister.

Fekter also spoke in favour of savings at the Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) and also announced changes in subsidy guidelines in order to make the subsidy jungle more transparent. Fekter expects further savings through a new public service law for newly-qualified teachers, which is to apply already to new recruits in the next school year. Dr Fekter is sticking to her proposal, according to which teachers "work one third more" and in return receive higher entry salaries. In view of the upcoming wave of teacher retirements, the Minister anticipates a "huge dynamic" through this measure.

"The broad outlines of the package should be ready by the beginning of January, but I hope that an initial overview will be ready before Christmas. Details and adjustments will follow, and I anticipate that we will be able to adopt the austerity package in February," concluded Fekter.