Düsseldorf (dpa / lnw) – North Rhine-Westphalia’s Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) justified the planned debt-financed billion-euro special fund with financial uncertainties in view of the ongoing Ukraine war. The Russian war of aggression has also resulted in rising energy prices, record inflation and concerns about jobs in NRW, said Wüst on Tuesday in the state parliament’s budget debate. No one can say how long the war will last and how many people will flee.

It is also unclear how tax revenue will develop in the coming year and whether the economy will recover. “We must now take precautions for these imponderables,” said Wüst. “So that we can give people a bit of security in times of uncertainty.”

In addition to the state’s participation in the relief of the federal government and the care of the refugees, NRW also has to finance its own aid programs, said Wüst. In a first tranche, 1.6 billion euros would be made available for this purpose. It is about participation opportunities for children, help for the homeless and those in need, as well as support for energy-intensive companies in NRW and help for millions of commuters. “That’s the most important thing: getting people through this crisis well,” said Wüst.

Wüst took the massive criticism, including from the state audit office, of the budget process, which was accompanied by short-term U-turns, calmly. The state government “doesn’t get a kick out of the crown if we listen to the advice of experts,” said the CDU politician. “No one can say how much the crisis will worsen.”

After several U-turns, the state parliament on Tuesday, with the majority of the government factions, wanted to launch a 1.6 billion euro aid package to cushion the economic consequences of the Ukraine war, which was launched just a few days ago. The funds are the first tranche of a debt-financed “crisis management special fund” of up to five billion euros.

Contrary to what was planned, the crisis aid will only flow in NRW from 2023. Black-Green had withdrawn an originally planned supplementary budget for this year at short notice on Monday. The opposition spoke of chaos.

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