Relief for high earners: Economists make a devastating judgment on tank discounts

Contrary to expectations, the reduction in energy tax that has been in effect since midnight has already led to a significant drop in fuel prices at filling stations.

Relief for high earners: Economists make a devastating judgment on tank discounts

Contrary to expectations, the reduction in energy tax that has been in effect since midnight has already led to a significant drop in fuel prices at filling stations. The fact that the majority of petrol stations have already slashed prices could be a result of the high level of public attention and the associated competitive pressure. What makes consumers happy at the pump, however, causes a lack of understanding among economists. In their sharp criticism of the measure, the economists are more united than ever. An overview:

The director of the institute of the German economy, which is close to employers, Michael Hüther, considers the state intervention to be the wrong instrument. "In terms of regulatory policy, politics should only intervene in the market if the price increase is due to abusive market power," Hüther told the "Augsburger Allgemeine". The head of the institute criticized the lack of targeting of the energy tax cut. "A tank discount is neither effective in terms of distribution policy, since it relieves the burden regardless of need, nor is it accurate in terms of company or industry policy," said Hüther.

Economist Marcel Fratzscher considers the tank discount to be counterproductive and a "redistribution from poor to rich" that thwarts climate protection. He's just throwing more money down the throat of the oil companies that are currently abusing this situation. According to the head of the economic research institute DIW, the tank discount does not help most people with low incomes in terms of higher heating costs and food prices, because many of them do not have a car at all. "The tank discount is counterproductive in every respect, it's expensive, harmful and anti-social," says Fratzscher on Deutschlandfunk.

For Veronika Grimm, a member of the Advisory Council, the tank discount is completely out of date. In their opinion, too, the measure is not fair. "We have to relieve the lower and middle incomes. Fuel discounts relieve high earners more because they own more cars and drive longer distances," says Grimm. Similar to Fratzscher, Grimm is critical of the tank discount with a view to climate protection because it makes fossil fuels cheaper. "This thwarts climate protection and massively intensifies the challenges in the event of a possible supply stop of Russian gas. We need the dampening effect of high prices on demand so that we don't face even greater challenges than we already do in the event of a shortage of fossil fuels."

IFO President Clemens Fuest argues similarly. In connection with the tank discount, he speaks of a "redistribution from bottom to top". In his opinion, relief should not be applied with a watering can, but rather in a targeted manner. Fuest sees the tank discount as a measure that leaves low earners out. "In high-income households, the proportion of expenses for petrol is particularly high, so the reduction in petrol prices tends to be a redistribution from bottom to top," says Fuest of the "Rheinische Post".

Jens Südekum, a member of the Scientific Advisory Board at the Economics Ministry and professor at Düsseldorf's Heinrich Heine University, even considers the tank discount to be "completely missed" and "money thrown out the window". "The fuel price cap also relieves the fuel bill of very rich SUV drivers," says Südekum. The motto must now be to save energy. "People have to leave their cars wherever possible. High petrol prices ensure exactly that." If you are dependent on a car, the state can help you selectively, be it through the basic income tax allowance or, even better, through a flat-rate energy allowance.

The economics Monika Schnitzer generally sent the wrong political signal. "People should rather drive less, drive more slowly, form carpools," said Schnitzer on Bavarian radio. "You should switch to local and long-distance public transport. All of this is now reduced by this price signal."

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