Arguments for energy price caps: DGB boss urges relief “across the board”

Arguments for energy price caps
DGB boss urges relief “across the board”

While the traffic light continues to argue about relief ideas, union boss Fahimi also speaks up. It is important to support not only the socially needy, but also the general public. This requires concrete perspectives. Fahimi once again underlines the advantages of an energy price cap.

DGB boss Yasmin Fahimi has called on the federal government to provide noticeable relief, not only for the socially needy. “Relief measures must also be noticeable across the board,” said the chairwoman of the German trade union federation. “Sure, the federal government can’t put a big cheese cover over us,” said Fahimi. There is also a great willingness to show solidarity. “But there is growing irritation that in a crisis, giving up is always the most demanded of those who have the least,” Fahimi continued. “Therefore, the government must offer a clever overall solution.”

Fahimi described the gas levy as correct in the matter. However, it burdens an average household four times more than the EEG surcharge last did. “It is therefore right to reduce VAT on gas at the same time,” said Fahimi. Chancellor Olaf Scholz had announced this. Fahimi said: “But why isn’t the electricity tax finally reduced to the minimum permissible in Europe?”

“More precise debate” on distribution needed

Overall, the pressure to reduce energy costs remains high. “And not just for a few need groups, but also across the board,” said Fahimi. “A more detailed debate” is therefore necessary about who will be relieved and to what extent. “Those who cannot pay their bills, i.e. in particular transfer recipients, must be given full relief.”

The situation is also difficult for people with low annual incomes or small pensions. “They don’t have any reserves either, and it’s not just about saving on one or the other vacation,” said the DGB boss. “Even if we can’t absorb every burden 100 percent, we have to give these people a signal that we are absorbing them and that they can plan again.”

It’s not just about the electricity and gas bill for this year. Germany’s top trade unionist said: “But what about the perspective of 2023, 2024? Can I plan anything at all, such as vacation or any purchases? Or do I have to hold it all back?” Fahimi said: “Of course we are committed to ensuring that the federal government takes further measures this year.” This could be a further energy price flat rate, which should then also apply to pensioners and students.

Demand for an energy price cap

However, such a lump sum cannot be a permanent solution. “That’s why our call for an energy price cap is more relevant than ever,” said Fahimi. The DGB boss had already proposed such a cap before the start of the concerted action to which Scholz had invited the heads of employers and employees to the Chancellery because of the high inflation. Now Fahimi is consolidating her advance. “It can’t be implemented in a month or two, but that makes it all the more urgent for us to tackle the topic conceptually this year,” she demanded. “We need more than just a tax policy redistribution.”

Central to the model is the guaranteed price for a defined basic requirement. “There is a higher market price for the additional consumption,” Fahimi continues. That creates savings incentives. “Because then you might think: Is the normal freezer compartment in my station wagon enough for me or do I really need the chest freezer in the basement? Can I switch off the light more consistently and only turn on the heating when I’m really at home?”

Fahimi pointed to the medium-term perspective. “Even if we succeed in procuring sufficient gas from countries other than Russia in the next two years, the price level will initially be high.” However, the prospect of a reduction in energy prices is associated with the expansion of renewables. “Then why not just spread the burden? We should spread the cost over a longer period of time.”

Fahimi explained: “Our suggestion is: We now cap the energy price and say that consumers don’t have to pay the fixed level for two years, but for example for four years. But the price shock will not come with a big bang and will kill us all .” From Fahimi’s point of view, this would also be interesting for the industry. “Because the energy prices not only strain our wallets, but also call entire production sectors into question.” Fahimi announced that she would continue to address her suggestions in the concerted action.

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