Germany assesses whether consumer gas price curb can be brought forward – minister

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BERLIN — German Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Sunday that it was not yet clear whether a gas price curb for consumers and small businesses planned from March could be brought forward, pointing to technical difficulties and legal to accelerate the movement.

Some ministers of state have called for the price restraint to come into effect in January, as it will for large industrial companies, to support small businesses and households through the winter.

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Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce in Munich on Saturday that the government must first ensure that energy suppliers would be able to present the measure before making any promises.

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« We don’t know at the moment whether this is technically possible, » Lindner said, speaking on the ‘Bericht Aus Berlin’ TV show on broadcaster ARD. « These are technical and legal issues that we need to look into…we are working as quickly as possible. »

Under current plans, the government will make a one-off payment to cover the December gas bill for households and small and medium-sized businesses this year, with an ongoing mechanism to cap prices in place from March.

Meanwhile, large industrial companies consuming more than 1.5 million kilowatt hours a year will see a price curb on 70% of their annual gas consumption from January, with the remaining 30% subject to market prices.

When asked if the government would suspend the constitutional debt brake in 2023 as it did for 2022, Lindner said: « Of course we will have high debts next year. But we have to send a signal to the capital markets that Germany will remain stable in the long term and manage public money well, so that interest rates do not rise even more, or worse.(Reporting by Victoria Waldersee; Editing by Jan Harvey)


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