ARCHIV - 28.07.2022, Sachsen-Anhalt, Bernburg: Die Sonne geht hinter technischen Anlagen des Erdgasspeichers Katharina auf. (zu dpa "Gasspeicher zu rund 82 Prozent voll - Habeck: Schneller als erwartet") Foto: Klaus-Dietmar Gabbert/dpa +++ dpa-Bildfunk +++

Federal Minister of Economics Robert Habeck has promised to change the planned gas levy. The correction is intended to prevent companies that do not need it from an economic point of view from benefiting from this levy on private households and industry. “That’s why you have to work hard on the problem now. And we do that too,” said the Greens politician on Sunday evening on ZDF’s “heute journal”. “We will solve this problem.” The FDP calls for corrections until the government meeting this Tuesday. SPD party leader Lars Klingbeil is also pushing for corrections to the controversial gas levy.

The SPD chairman accused Habeck at the weekend of “technical errors” in the construction of the gas levy. “It cannot be that companies that earned billions in the crisis are still collecting billions in tax money,” Klingbeil told the “Zeit Online” portal, according to a statement on Saturday.

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For him, the criteria for when a company receives money from the levy have not yet been understood, added the SPD leader. Habeck undoubtedly has an interesting communication style, “and of course we notice that it is well received by the public,” said Klingbeil. At the same time, however, he warned: “In the end, it’s not just pretty words that count in politics.”

Klingbeil went on to say that it is now “important that we work together to eliminate the technical errors that occurred during the gas levy”. SPD parliamentary group leader Dirk Wiese was similarly critical. “The Habeck principle works like this: appearances ready for film, technical implementation questionable and in the end the citizen pays for it,” said Wiese of “Bild am Sonntag”.

The gas surcharge is intended to relieve companies that have to buy expensive gas elsewhere to fulfill their contracts because of restricted deliveries from Russia. This is intended to prevent company bankruptcies and delivery failures. Private households and companies are to pay the surcharge of a good 2.4 cents per kilowatt hour from October, with VAT on gas consumption falling to seven percent.

According to the current regulations, companies that are not in economic difficulties or even make high profits in other business areas would also benefit from the levy. This has already triggered massive criticism within the red-green-yellow traffic light coalition. Habeck therefore wants to review his previous plans for the levy again.

The energy policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Michael Kruse, called for the gas surcharge to be limited to companies in difficulties. In the “Rheinische Post”, he proposed a staged test procedure for this.

The Greens politician Anton Hofreiter called for the gas levy to be dropped altogether. “The simpler solution would be to say we give up the gas surcharge, we give up the VAT reduction and help the affected companies directly,” he told the RND.

CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt spoke on Bavarian radio about a “contribution rip-off”. Bavaria’s Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also sharply criticized. On ZDF, he warned of “considerable distortions” in the current crisis. At the same time, the traffic light coalition argues “rather among themselves,” he added.

In the “Augsburger Allgemeine”, Söder meanwhile described the traffic light coalition as “increasingly overwhelmed”. The Greens in particular “did not cut a good figure in political trade,” he said, referring to Habeck and the levy.

Union Parliament Secretary Thorsten Frei (CDU) accused Habeck in the “Rheinische Post” of “ignorance and naivety” as well as “technical botch”. He also called the traffic light coalition “completely overwhelmed”.

The employer-oriented Institute of German Economics (IW) meanwhile considers improvements to the gas levy to be possible. Politicians must “sharpen the criteria for claiming the compensation payments,” said the IW energy experts Andreas Fischer and Malte Küper to the editorial network Germany.

The head of the umbrella organization of the energy industry, Kerstin Andreae, tells the editorial network: “The best way would have been to support the gas import companies from federal funds or via loan guarantees”.

The German Tenants’ Association also wants to “stamp up” the levy. “Because we assume that the reduction in VAT will not fully offset the burden of the levy,” said President Lukas Siebenkotten of the Bayern media group.

The economics minister was able to announce good news over the weekend: German gas reserves are increasing faster than planned. “The memory fills up faster than specified,” Habeck told the “Spiegel”. “The October storage target of 85 percent should be reached by the beginning of September,” the magazine quoted from an internal memo from the ministry.