According to provisional data, the state budget deficit amounted to EUR 434 million in January 2021, and without the effect of COVID-related measures the state budget would have had a slight surplus (EUR 36 million).
The monthly cost of COVID-related measures with a direct effect on the state budget balance was EUR 472 million in January. The January expenditure for this purpose represents more than half of the budgeted COVID-related expenditure for the whole of 2021. The total direct effect of these measures since March 2020 has been EUR 2,896 million.
According to available data, a much smaller share of the working population was included in job preservation measures in the second wave of the epidemic than in the spring of last year.
Along with the further increase in public expenditure relating to COVID-related measures, the Fiscal Council calls on economic policymakers to actually focus one-off measures on mitigating the direct consequences of the epidemic. As a matter of fact, doubt is arising as to the justification of certain payments of employee bonuses. With the further expansion of the population groups receiving a solidarity bonus, the need to address structural problems through deliberate systemic changes and not through one-off solutions should be emphasised. The increase in expenditure not directly related to the epidemic also reduces the room for manoeuvre for an appropriately targeted fiscal policy after the end of the epidemic.