The VDA welcomes the call from the “Bodewig Commission” to increase investment funding from the German federal budget by an annual 2.7 billion euro. Recognising the necessity of a needs-oriented infrastructure for all modes of transport is an important signal at the beginning of the new parliamentary session. Germany’s tax revenues are at record levels and expected to continue rising until 2017. This very high level of state income is partly due to today’s high taxes and levies on motorists in Germany. For this reason, politicians should make the effort to provide additional funding for the transport infrastructure without introducing more vehicle tolls.
The commission is right to propose fixing the funding for investment over a period of several years, to enable construction and maintenance work to be carried out efficiently. Until now the annual budget decisions have made this almost impossible. The infrastructure funds proposed by commission go in the right direction. At this point we appeal to the politicians responsible for the budget to open up new paths so that policy will no longer be determined by the cash situation. Revenues should be securely ring-fenced. All toll revenues from road traffic must feed back into the road infrastructure. In this context, the newly initiated regular network status report (that the private sector has been calling for over many years) is also very significant. It could ensure that the situation is transparent for the general public, too. In addition, the envisaged pilot projects and incentive systems can contribute to a more efficient use of funding. This warrants a constructive approach.
However, the roads alone cannot cover the investment deficits in the transport sector. The commission’s proposal of creating new sources of revenue by extending the truck toll would therefore be a step in the wrong direction. A toll on national roads would affect regional commercial traffic in particular and thus many small and medium-sized companies. And there is no reason to include long-distance buses in the truck toll. Buses already cover their costs to the infrastructure. Instead of imposing additional burdens on companies and consumers, the Government should advance structural reforms in the financing of the infrastructure, and use its tax revenues (which are rising in any case) in an intelligent manner.
Politicians must not simply engage in cherry-picking and at the end of the day adopt only those proposals that increase revenues. The recommendations of the Bodewig Commission must not be restricted solely to tapping into new sources of money.