Debt clock in lower saxony runs backwards for the first time

The Lower Saxony debt clock has been hanging in the rooms of the CDU parliamentary group in the state parliament for around 25 years – as of today, it is running backwards for the first time, thus showing the state's declining debts.


From left to right: Ulf Thiele, CDU, deputy mayor of the city of Hamburg, Germany. Parliamentary group chairman; Reinhold Hilbers (CDU), Lower Saxony Minister of Finance and Bernhard Zentgraf, Chairman of the Lower Saxony Taxpayers' Association. (Photo: Antenne Lower Saxony)

Bernhard Zentgraf, state chairman of the Federation of Taxpayers, presented on Tuesday (11.01.) in the Lower Saxony state parliament set the debt clock in reverse and also immediately deducted a total of around 641 million euros from the total amount of debt.

The debt reduction was made possible by a state parliament resolution last year, after higher tax revenues had been forecast. In addition, the introduced debt brake played its part in reducing the debt to some extent.

Zentgraf emphasized that this was due, among other things, to his sustainability-oriented fiscal policy and the high level of discipline in fiscal policy. It is also an important and good sign to be able to remain stable even in a crisis, he said. Zentgraf has been in charge of the debt clock for 25 years and is now pleased that it is finally running backwards.

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Lower Saxony's Finance Minister Hilbers at the changeover of the debt clock. Photo: picture alliance/dpa

Lower Saxony's Finance Minister Reinhold Hilbers (CDU) also commented positively on this progress. Hilbers was pleased that the black zero was thus achieved earlier than actually planned. Actually, this was not to be expected before 2024. Then the state also no longer has a choice, because after a suspension in the Corona pandemic, the debt brake takes effect again. Hilbers also defended this against criticism, saying that even while adhering to the debt brake, care would be taken in the future to spend money wisely and in a planned manner. The debt brake is in no way a brake on investment, Hilbers emphasized – in the future, too, care will be taken to spend money sensibly and in a planned manner. Hilbers assured that loans would not be bunkered in the future and that the financial situation would remain stable, as this was inevitable for the further reduction of debt.

Looking at the country's overall mountain of debt, however, experts continue to worry: Nearly 70 billion euros in deficit is a heavy mortgage for our children and children's children, Zentgraf said – they will have to pay it off for a long time. He calculates: At the current rate of paying off 22 euros in one second, it would take about 100 years to pay off this debt – and only without new crises and incidents.