Job Losses Part of Reunification Cost GERMANY

By Amy Kaslow, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, May 24, 1990 | Go to article overview

Job Losses Part of Reunification Cost GERMANY


Amy Kaslow, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


GERMAN reunification is starting to look more and more expensive.

Last week, the Bonn government and the 11 West German states agreed to establish a $70 billion special German Unity Fund to help pay for the reconstruction of East Germany's economy through 1994.

But there is some question whether that will be enough.

Jurgen Klose, an economist with the Brune Leuscher Academy for Economics in East Berlin, says more money will be needed to repair East Germany's infrastructure. Telecommunications, for example, will cost roughly $20 billion. An additional $250 billion is needed for roads, highways, bridges, and tunnels, he says. More than $30 billion is needed to revitalize the farm sector.

This names just a few areas that need urgent funding, Mr. Klose says. But he acknowledges that "a step by step process is the best way."

Economic integration of the two nations will start in a major way July 2 when the West German mark becomes the sole legal tender in East Germany as well as West Germany. At that point, West Germany will administer East German banking, set East German credit limits, and assume its mounting debt.

The $70 billion unity fund will augment other East German revenue sources, such as taxes and the sale of state lands and other properties. It will thus help provide for social services, wages, and pensions, indirectly reducing a large budget deficit. But it doesn't take into account all of East German debts.

West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl earlier planned to finance unification entirely through the West German budget and tax system. But this plan was scrapped due to its political risks. Mr. Kohl intends to call an all-German election by the end of the year. Instead the German finance ministry says it will finance the unity fund by issuing securities on the West German capital market.

West Germany's task includes unwinding the system of central state planning that has prevailed in East Germany for 40 years.

Comments Paul Kruger, a young member of the East German parliament: "In the past, small and medium-size companies were liquidated. Today we have only big state-run companies. The management is from the Communist Party experience, not economic experience." He sees that planning mistake as the dominant reason for East Germany's economic weakness. "We must set up new structures and break up the big companies."

After this restructuring occurs, only one-third of the companies will make it in a market economy, Mr. …

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