Vienna, 19 January 2012 Fekter: We have to close the loopholes in the tax codeNeue Seite Plans to start making cuts to expenditures – including subsidies and grants, the public administration, pensions and health care system

For Austrian Finance Minister Dr. Maria Fekter, consolidating the budget on the expenditures side and eliminating abuses in the tax system continue to be at the top of the agenda, as she underscored in a speech to parliament on 19 January 2012. Dr. Fekter stated that the federal government needs to consolidate its budget to the tune of EUR 2 billion each year up to 2016.

Once again, Finance Minister Dr. Fekter emphasised: “There will not be any tax on wealth introduced on my watch. I am a believer in private property. Where a citizen has created wealth and worked to save his assets with the sweat of his brow, the Minister of Finance should not just coolly come along and confiscate it under the guise of taxation ”. She also ruled out any reinstatement of the Austrian estate and gift tax, which when most recently in force only yielded EUR 140 million.

The points of attack for Dr. Fekter are the big cost drivers in the federal budget. Once again, she referred to earl y retirement pensions and to the Austrian railway ÖBB. "We have to raise the de facto retirement age and eliminate the incentives to take early retirement, and we have to come up with better increases and deductions on early retirement pensions. If we stop letting the specialist workers we need urgently in our workforce take early retirement, then we will save a lot of money and at the same time benefit the economy”, Finance Minister Dr. Fekter emphasised.

In the realm of subsidies and grants, she wants to see better coordination between the Austrian L änder and municipalities. “We have to clearly and uniformly define what it is we wish to promote, and we need to direct the flows of public funding accordingly”, Dr. Fekter stated. In the case of the health care system, she referred to the ongoing efforts at structural reform.

Dr. Fekter categorically rules out any changes to the rules on group taxation. “Anyone who starts meddling with group taxation rules will be guilty of destroying Austrian jobs”, the Finance Minister stated in closing.