German Leaders Give Themselves Pay Raises While Telling Ordinary People to Tighten Belts: Report

© REUTERS / MICHELE TANTUSSIGerman Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Economy Minister Robert Habeck, and Finance Minister Christian Lindner chat during a budget session of Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Economy Minister Robert Habeck, and Finance Minister Christian Lindner chat during a budget session of Germany's lower house of parliament, the Bundestag, in Berlin, Germany, March 23, 2022. REUTERS/Michele Tantussi - Sputnik International, 1920, 02.04.2022
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German opposition figures, media, and corporations have warned that Berlin will be headed for an economic crisis of a scale and magnitude unseen since the Second World War if it joins the broader campaign to stop or significantly reduce purchases of Russian energy over Moscow's military operation in Ukraine.
Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz, Finance Minister Christian Lindner, Economy Minister Robert Habeck, and other senior officials have taken pay raises while encouraging ordinary Germans to hunker down and prepare for the worst, DWN reports, citing new government salary figures that went into effect on Friday.

Scholz, whose monthly salary amounts to under 30,000 euros, got an increase of 345 euros per month. Lindner and Habeck are now getting 275 euros more each.

The salary bump comes amid comments by senior officials calling on ordinary Germans to prepare for “hard times”. On Friday, Habeck warned that the crisis in German-Russian relations over Ukraine and the resulting possible energy crisis would take a bite out of Germans’ economic wellbeing.

Parliamentary secretary for economic affairs Oliver Krischer told reporters Thursday that citizens and businesses alike would need to prepare to reduce their energy consumption dramatically, and said that “each and every individual” will need to do their part.

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Finance Minister Lindner, meanwhile, admitted last month that if Germany had to pay more for energy, “we as a country will become poorer overall”.
In an interview with the Rheinische Post on Saturday, Habeck said that Berlin’s refusal to institute an outright boycott of Russian gas supplies was the right thing to do, since such a measure would result in a sharp rift among German business and society. Instead, he said, Berlin will be gradually cutting down its dependence on Russian energy.
“We are moving faster than we thought we could four weeks ago”, he said.
Habeck also rejected Russia’s demand that Germany pay for its natural gas energy in rubles, saying Berlin would not recognise “any violations of private supply contracts”.
Moscow has stressed that it would continue to supply gas in volumes and at prices fixed in long-term contracts, but that payment for new deliveries would have to be made in rubles starting 1 April. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov clarified Friday that shipments of gas which have already been paid for won’t be affected by the cutoff date, and that ruble payments will start in mid-April at the earliest.
Berlin has vowed not to pay in rubles.
Haback implemented emergency measures Wednesday aimed at coping with possible supply disruptions and preparing for gas rationing.
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German media reported Friday that rising energy costs were already pushing retailers toward double-digit increases in prices on food.
Last week, the business newspaper Handelsblatt warned that the costs of the West’s “economic war” on Russia to those waging it may quickly become unbearable, and include higher spending on energy and food, job losses, and the arrival of millions of refugees on top of that. The paper explained that Russia was highly integrated into the European economy, unlike previously sanctioned nations like Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea, and that its role as a resource provider was particularly important for Germany. At the same time, the paper noted that the decision by China, other countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America not to join Western countries in sanctioning Russia may ultimately nullify the restrictions' impact for Moscow in the long run.
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