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÷VP emphasises fiscal package's incentives

The Peopleís Party (÷VP) has claimed that the latest savings package consists of a string of "offensive measures".

÷VP Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger said after a meeting of his team of ministers yesterday (Mon) that the 26.5-billion-Euro pact Ė which has been branded by the opposition as a poorly planned accumulation of tax punishments Ė featured many reforms which would not cripple the domestic economy.

The ÷VP chief made aware of the decision to increase universitiesí budgets. The countryís 21 public universities are experiencing rising numbers of beginners while laws keep the higher education institutions from charging students. The ÷VP wants to reintroduce tuition fees. However, the Social Democrats (SP÷) of Chancellor Werner Faymann successfully vetoed the idea in the lengthy budget talks which were finalised last month.

Spindelegger also underlined the governmentís plan to spend more on childcare facilities. Womenís organisations have complained about the current situation many times since a lack of such opportunities confronts a large number of young mothers trying to manage work responsibilities and family affairs with immense difficulties.

The ÷VP chief revealed that his party planned to expand the subsidisation programme for the redevelopment of offices and housing estates. He suggested that apartment blocks across Austria could be equipped with lifts in a reaction to the accelerating ageing of the society. Austrian menís life expectancy was 77.7 years last year while women reached an average age of 83.2 years. Around 23 per cent of Austrians were older than 60 in 2010. Their share is set to increase by 10 per cent by 2030, according to research.

A recent statement by Spindelegger confirmed political commentators in their opinion that his party and the SP÷ are already gearing up for next yearís federal ballot. The vice chancellor said at a summit in Salzburg that negotiating a budget consolidation package with the Social Democrats was a more complex task than teaching figure skating to a donkey.

Both SP÷ and ÷VP claim to have prevailed in the recent budget talks. The SP÷ board pointed out that it managed to take hurdles set up by the ÷VP against a higher income tax for the rich. Far-left SP÷ members criticised the partyís leaders that the measure would only come into effect for a limited period of time. They also attacked their own partyís negotiators for failing to introduce a tax on assets. SP÷ boss Werner Faymann said at a general summit of the Styrian SP÷ in Bruck an der Mur on Saturday that Austriaís Social Democrats must unite "to be stronger than our enemies want us to be".

Meanwhile, Federal Economy Chamber (WKO) President Christoph Leitl appealed to the government to concentrate on carrying out reforms in the coming years. Leitl said another savings package would be unavoidable if the coalition breaks its promises. Leitl said shortly before SP÷ and ÷VP agreed on increasing some taxes that no tax hikes at all would be necessary if all federal and provincial public authorities reduced their expenditure by just five per cent in the coming years. The WKO chief claimed that such a move would erase the budget deficit.

Austrian Times

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