Why does someone respect the old law

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shorthand record

716th meeting of the Federal Council of the Republic of Austria

 

 

 

Thursday December 2, 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Shorthand record

716th meeting of the Federal Council of the Republic of Austria

Thursday December 2, 2004

Duration of the session

Thursday, December 2, 2004: 9:03 a.m. - 7:04 p.m.

*****

Agenda

1st point:

2nd point: Federal law amending the Salaried Employees Act, the Land Employees Act, the Construction Workers Vacation and Severance Pay Act and the Company Employee Pension Act

*****

content

Federal Council

Interruptions the meeting ................................................ ........................... 113, 157

Personal details

Prevention ................................................. .................................................. ............. 5

Question Time (108.)

Economy and work ..................................................................................................... 5

Karl Bader (1385 / M-BR / 04); Engelbert Weilharter, Stefan Schennach, Johann Kraml


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 2

Adelheid Ebner (1390 / M-BR / 04); Andrea Fraunschiel, Engelbert Weilharter, Eva Konrad

Engelbert Weilharter (1389 / M-BR / 04); Elisabeth Kerschbaum, Reinhard Todt, Herta Wimmler

Michaela Gansterer (1386 / M-BR / 04); Mag. John Gudenus, Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker, Roswitha Bachner

Wolfgang Schimböck (1391 / M-BR / 04); Sonja Zwazl, Engelbert Weilharter, Stefan Schennach

Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker (1394 / M-BR / 04); Wolfgang Schimböck, Dr. Karl-Heinz Dernoscheg, Ing.Siegfried Kampl

Edgar Mayer (1387 / M-BR / 04); Ing.Siegfried Kampl, Elisabeth Kerschbaum, Günther Prutsch

Ing.Reinhold Einwallner (1392 / M-BR / 04); Ing.Hermann Haller, Engelbert Weilharter, Eva Konrad

Dipl.-Ing. Heribert Bogensperger (1388 / M-BR / 04); Dr. Peter Böhm, Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker, Ewald Lindinger

Dr. Erich Gumplmaier (1393 / M-BR / 04); Dr. Georg Spiegelfeld-Schneeburg, Mag. John Gudenus, Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker

National Council

Resolutions and legislative resolutions ............................................... ........................... 36

Committees

Assignments ................................................. .................................................. ............... 36

Urgent request

the federal councilors Karl Boden, Colleagues to the Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology regarding the wave of post office closures - "Mr. Vice Chancellor, take action!" II (2278 / J-BR / 2004) ............... .................................................. .................................................. ... 114

Reason: Karl Boden ............................................................................................ 114

State Secretary Mag. Eduard Mainoni ...................................................................... 116

Debate:

Wolfgang Schimböck ................................................................................................ 123

Mag. Harald Himmer .................................................................................................. 127

Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker .......................................................................................... 128

Ing.Siegfried Kampl .................................................................................................. 130

Ana Blatnik .................................................................................................................. 132

Ing.Siegfried Kampl (actual correction) .............................................. ........ 134

Elisabeth Kerschbaum .............................................................................................. 134

Johann Giefing ........................................................................................................... 136

Stefan Schennach ...................................................................................................... 138

Helmut Kritzinger ....................................................................................................... 141

Ing.Reinhold Einwallner ........................................................................................... 141

Günther Prutsch ......................................................................................................... 143

Dr. Karl-Heinz Dernoscheg ....................................................................................... 146

Manfred Gruber .......................................................................................................... 148


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 3

Gottfried Kneifel ......................................................................................................... 151

Mag. Georg Pehm ...................................................................................................... 154

Andrea Fraunschiel .................................................................................................... 156

Motion for a resolution the federal councilors Wolfgang Schimböck, Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker, Colleagues regarding wave of post office closures - rejection ................ 126, 157

negotiations

Joint advice above

1st point: Decision of the National Council of 18 B. and 694 d.B. and 7153 / BR d.B. and 7154 / BR dB) ............................................ ....................................... 36

Rapporteur: Dr. Peter Bohm .................................................................................. 37

2nd point: Resolution of the National Council of November 18, 2004 regarding a federal law amending the Salaried Employees Act, the Land Employees Act, the Construction Workers Vacation and Severance Pay Act and the Company Employee Pension Act (695 d.B. and 7155 / BR d.B.) 37

Rapporteur: Dr. Peter Bohm .................................................................................. 37

Speakers:

Roswitha Bachner ...............................................................................................  38, 113

Federal Minister Herbert Haupt ............................................................  42, 81, 86

Mag. Harald Himmer .................................................................................................... 46

Eva Konrad ............................................................................................................  49, 97

Ing.Siegfried Kampl .................................................................................................... 51

Mag. Susanne Neuwirth .............................................................................................. 53

Martina Diesner-Wais .................................................................................................. 57

Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker ............................................................................................ 60

Mag. John Gudenus ............................................................................................  63, 107

Dr. Erich Gumplmaier ................................................................................................. 66

State Secretary Franz Morak ........................................................................................ 69

Edgar Mayer .........................................................................................................  71, 108

Dr. Erich Gumplmaier (actual correction) .............................................. ....... 75

Elisabeth Kerschbaum ................................................................................................ 75

Engelbert Weilharter .................................................................................................... 78

Günther Molzbichler .................................................................................................... 79

Franz Wolfinger ............................................................................................................ 87

Harald Reisenberger .................................................................................................... 89

Andrea Fraunschiel ...................................................................................................... 93

Angela Lueger .............................................................................................................. 95


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 4

Johann Höfinger ........................................................................................................... 96

Ferdinand Tiefnig ......................................................................................................... 98

Ing.Reinhold Einwallner ............................................................................................. 99

Mag. Bernhard Baier .................................................................................................. 101

Stefan Schennach (actual correction) .............................................. ............ 104

Manfred Gruber .......................................................................................................... 104

Albrecht Konecny ...................................................................................................... 109

Sonja Zwazl ................................................................................................................. 112

Request the federal councilors Albrecht Konecny, Colleagues, against the legislative resolution of the National Council of 18.


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 5

B. and 694 d.B. and 7153 / BR d.B. and 7154 / BR d.B.) to raise an objection according to §§ 20 Abs. 2 and 43 GO-BR - rejection (roll call vote) 111, 157

List of the results of the roll-call vote .................................... 158

adoption of the motion of the rapporteur on point 1 not to raise any objection to the present decision of the National Council ................................ ................................ 158

adoption of the motion of the rapporteur on point 2 not to raise any objection to the present decision of the National Council ................................ ................................ 159

Were brought in

Request from the Federal Council

Karl Boden, Colleagues to the Federal Minister for Transport, Innovation and Technology regarding the wave of post office closures - "Mr. Vice Chancellor, take action!" II (2278 / J-BR / 2004)

Query responses

of the Federal Minister of Economics and Labor at the request of the Federal Councilors Dr. Ruperta Lichtenecker, Colleagues on technology policy (2060 / AB-BR / 04 to 2250 / J-BR / 04)

of the Federal Minister of the Interior at the request of the Federal Councilors Elisabeth Kerschbaum, Colleagues regarding the improper use of data from the voter register by the Lower Austrian VP (2061 / AB-BR / 04 to 2259 / J-BR / 04)

of the Federal Minister of the Interior at the request of the Federal Councilors Albrecht Konecny, Colleagues regarding new findings from Scotland Yard advisor Charles Hill on the Saliera robbery (2062 / AB-BR / 04 to 2260 / J-BR / 04)

 



Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 6

Start of the meeting: 9.03 a.m.

 


President Anna Elisabeth Haselbach: Before opening the session, I would like to briefly note something that I think is not unimportant to say:

In the next year we will have many commemorative sessions, many sessions on happy occasions, remembering many things that we fondly remember, but today I would like to remember a man who is also part of our history. 70 years ago there was a member of the Federal Council by the name of Karl Knapp. He was not a member of the Federal Council for very long, he came into the house on December 21, 1933 and had to leave this house on February 17, 1934 due to political circumstances. In two days it will mark the 60th anniversary of this man's death; he was murdered on December 4, 1944 in the Dachau concentration camp - I may put it this way.

Ladies and gentlemen! With all the joy that we will feel next year, we should also think of people with such fates and promise ourselves that we will always deal correctly with one another and, above all, in the awareness of the responsibility we have towards our citizens. I would ask you to do this on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the death of a former member of the Federal Council.

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I open now the 716th session of the Federal Council.

The official minutes of the 715th meeting of the Federal Council on November 25, 2004 have been published, have not been objected to and are therefore considered approved.

Prevented are the members of the Federal Council Helmut Wiesenegg and Roland Zellot.

Question time

 


President Anna Elisabeth Haselbach: We now come to Question Time. I will now start calling the questions at 9:05 a. M. And would like to point out that, in agreement with the two Vice-Presidents, I can extend Question Time to up to 120 minutes to allow all oral questions to be dealt with.

Federal Ministry of Economics and Labor

 


President Anna Elisabeth Haselbach: We now come to the first question to the Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Labor, which Federal Councilor Bader made. May I ask that the question be read out?

 


Federal Councilor Karl Bader (ÖVP, Lower Austria): Dear Federal Minister! My question is:

1385 / M-BR / 2004

"How do you assess the economic development in Austria compared to the EU?"

 




Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 7

Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Madam President! High Federal Council! The recently published data from the European Commission, but also from the OECD, show that we should develop somewhat more favorably in both 2004 and 2005 than the European Union average, both for the so-called euro zone and for the European Union of 15 and 25 arrives. - I differentiate that because the Union of 25 did not come into existence until May 1 of this year, and also because the growth rates in the ten new Member States are relatively higher than in the 15 old Member States.

Mr Federal Council! We can expect growth of around 2 percent in Austria this year - 1.9 percent says one institute, 2.1 percent the other - and, according to the institutes, we can expect growth of around 2.5 in the next year Percent count. A few days ago the OECD predicted 2.3 percent, the European Commission predicts 2.4 percent. Seen in this way - in summary - significantly stronger growth than in the years 2001 to 2003, also stronger growth than in the already somewhat satisfactory year 2004.

 



Federal Councilor Karl Bader (ÖVP, Lower Austria): What dangers, Mr. Federal Minister, do you see in a further increase in the euro exchange rate compared to the dollar?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Madam President! Mr Federal Council! The euro exchange rate is undoubtedly excessive. There is no one who thinks that this rate of 1.33 against the dollar is fundamentally justified. Still it looks like it.

There is also little evidence that the dollar may rebound. Some say that now, after the presidential elections at the latest, whatever administration, including the Bush administration, would be forced to cut the national budget deficit, or at least halve it. Whether that will serve to prop up the dollar - even that is questioned.

In summary, the Americans live beyond their means. External capital supports this and finances the deficits, both the budget deficit and the escalating trade deficit. Nevertheless: Europe has little in hand to be able to change that, especially not because the USA - not only the political leadership, but also the broader population - have relatively few problems with the low dollar exchange rate.

That is undoubtedly the biggest question mark that has to be put into next year's growth rates.

Austria is an economy that is highly dependent on foreign trade and exports. Now one can argue: 80 percent of our exports go to the euro area - that's also true! - but on the other hand, these are to a large extent also the intermediate goods of those goods which in turn go from there to the dollar area.

Incidentally, it is interesting that our exports to the dollar area and the USA are currently - despite the strength of the euro and the weakness of the dollar! - increase particularly strongly, but I attribute that mainly to the export of certain car brands, sports utility vehicles, which are very, very ... (Interjection at the ÖVP.) Not only certain energy drinks, but also the BMW X3 has attracted massively; it is manufactured and produced in Graz and was also developed there, and the markets in the USA are still the major demand markets.


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 8

But in principle our economy is, if the export economy is not particularly well served with the high euro and the low dollar exchange rate, that is the greatest sign of risk - if it helps us a little with the oil bill. Speaking of the oil bill: By way of comparison, I think, and most experts do not, consider the oil price to pose such a dramatic threat to the economy. The oil price - depending on the variety and depending on the week - around 40 dollars, sometimes up to 50 dollars per barrel, is of course higher, significantly higher than we would like - with the exception of OMV, which is not so reluctant to see it because it stimulates business - but, Mr Bundesrat, to sum up, the greater risk comes from the high euro exchange rate and not from the high oil price.

 



Federal Councilor Engelbert Weilharter (Freedom, Styria): Mr. Federal Minister! How do you rate the attractiveness of Austria as a location in an international comparison?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Good or very good! If you, Mr Bundesrat, equate the international comparison with the Europe of the European Union, then we are one of the strongest, if not the strongest, the most attractive country in comparison. In its autumn report, the European Commission cited eight key parameters, key economic parameters, and in relation to 2005, Austria was above the European Union average in seven out of eight parameters and only one below it.

Now I am not talking about growth and inflation and the like, but about productivity development, about the development of unit labor costs, and I would like to say clearly in the Federal Council: Thanks to the social partners, thanks to the employee representatives for having done this again and again in recent years contributed to the fact that not all productivity gains were converted into 100 percent wage increases and that this made it possible to lower unit labor costs. When it comes to unit labor costs - the most decisive competitive parameter when it comes to industrial goods - the development in Austria is more gratifying than in any other EU country.

In an international comparison, as far as the global competitive situation is concerned, it does not look really good for Europe in general and therefore for Austria in particular. We have not yet found any answers to the risk that industrial jobs will migrate to China, India and elsewhere, East and Far East and Southern Asia, and that scientific jobs, research jobs could migrate to the USA. This is a European structural problem and we have to find answers to it.

We have partly found answers, but we have not yet been politically able to translate that. I assume that we will also come back to the Services Directive during this Question Time, and I can say in advance that in recent years Europe has paid far too little attention to productivity, far too little to the realization of the internal market, overall far too little on competitiveness and thus on growth and jobs.

 




Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 9

Federal Councilor Stefan Schennach (Greens, Vienna): Dear Federal Minister! The role of women in the economy is becoming increasingly important; Last but not least, we have a President of the Chamber of Commerce among us.

How do you assess the role of women in the Austrian economy compared to the Scandinavian economy?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: It is becoming more and more important! Without wanting to underestimate the role of women in other areas of work, on the contrary, but the statistics say - Madam President Zwazl, I hope you know the same statistics - that around a third of all entrepreneurs are women, and the trend is rising. Perhaps this is also due to the fact that in self-employment the multiple burden of work, family and household does not disappear, but the ability to divide up the time makes it a little easier to get through than in traditional employment.

Women entrepreneurs are successful. Fortunately, there are not only many, many female entrepreneurs, but also top female entrepreneurs and top managers. That should serve as a role model, it also has one, encourages us, and is gratifying.But now I don't have any comparative figures for Scandinavia, I can't tell you: x percent in Austria, y percent in Scandinavia.

Basically you can say that you can learn a lot from the Scandinavians, including their success in research and development, keyword Ericsson, keyword Nokia. You can't copy that overnight, but you can perhaps achieve something similar overnight. We know that the compatibility of work and family works a lot better there overall than with us and that this is certainly also - by no means the only one - one of the reasons why women there are willing to include children in their life planning, is relatively larger than ours.

 



Federal Councilor Johann Kraml (SPÖ, Upper Austria): Mr. Federal Minister! The rosy portrayal of the economic situation is one side. The other side is of course your own house, especially the rapidly increasing number of bankruptcies among small and medium-sized companies. It is significant that more than 50 percent of the bankruptcy applications had to be rejected due to lack of funds.

What, Mr. Federal Minister, do you attribute this situation to?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Mr Federal Council! Bankruptcy statistics are one of the many parameters for seeing what the economic situation is like. If the situation is as it is now, then that means that on the one hand the majority of companies in Austria are doing quite well, in some cases very well, but a certain part is not doing so well. They give a more differentiated picture in the economy; you can't lump everything together.

Incidentally, I would be happy if the employee representatives understood this in some representation questions and would draw the conclusion that some decisions are being shifted more to the company level, because at the branch level there is a "one size fits all" pattern , and we do all


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 10

happy - no longer works; With wages and salaries, for example: with one person there might be a little more for the employees, for the other it is already too much.

This differentiation of the economy is certainly one thing.

On the other hand, Mr Bundesrat: Not all bankruptcies that are rejected for lack of funds, but a good number of these bankruptcies raise my eyebrows and raise their eyebrows. There is also a lot of it-designed-to-have. That is why I am particularly pleased that we have found the political consensus these days, including with the business community - that was not always the case - that, for example, employees are now to be registered for social security when or before they start work, in order to counteract certain mechanisms.

Or: The finance minister has made a massive effort to introduce general contractor liability with a view to the construction industry, in order to put a stop to the establishment of bogus companies, which are then sent into bankruptcy.

We have therefore made a restriction where we have said that we want to give a second chance - under criminal and commercial law - that comes into play or comes into effect in the case of bankruptcies that are rejected for lack of funds, because there - me repeat this - not always, but in an increased number of cases to suspect an intention behind it, in any case cannot be ruled out. And this kind of economic fraud - let me put it this way - we want to fight together.

 



Federal Councilor Adelheid Ebner (SPÖ, Lower Austria): Dear Federal Minister! My question:

1390 / M-BR / 2004

"Why are you not taking labor market policy measures to combat the extremely high and still rising unemployment among women?"

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein:Mrs. Federal Councilor! High Federal Council! On the one hand, I would like to inform you that for the first time since 2001, i.e. for almost four years, with the November labor market data, we have had declining unemployment figures in Austria.

I have repeatedly emphasized: on the one hand we have very low unemployment figures compared to other European countries and very favorable labor market data, but on the other hand unemployment figures have increased in comparison with Austria, only slightly recently. There has been a sort of upper limit in the last few months, and now for the first time we have a slight decrease of 0.6 percent, or 1,400 fewer unemployed, year-on-year. - A swallow doesn't make summer, but a swallow always is.

It is true that after a phase of falling female unemployment rates, these have risen in recent months. For me, however, it is incomprehensible when you say that, as Federal Minister, I am not taking any measures together with the AMS. I would like to remind you in front of the High Federal Council that the AMS is not a subordinate agency of my house, but one of them


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 11

Social partners in third parity together with the Ministry of Labor well-managed institution. The main political decisions are made unanimously there, that is, with the votes of employers and employees. And it has been a matter of course there for years that the proportion of funds that is spent on active labor market policy in favor of women is disproportionately high.

I would like to inform you, Ms. Federal Councilor, that the proportion of women among unemployed people is currently around 42 percent, whereas the proportion of women among all sponsored people is 54 percent in the same period - clearly disproportionately high. Apart from the sponsored people, this also applies to the financial resources that are used there. It will continue to be the case that women as a special target group in the labor market are proportionally more strongly promoted, more strongly supported than men.

 


President Anna Elisabeth Haselbach: Thank you, Federal Minister.

Federal Councilor Ebner, would you like a supplementary question? - Thanks.

We come to the first additional question that Federal Councilor Fraunschiel will ask. - You're welcome.

 


Federal Councilor Andrea Fraunschiel (ÖVP, Burgenland): Mr. Federal Minister! What about the numbers of women unemployment in Austria in an international comparison and also with regard to the Lisbon goals?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Madam President! Mrs. Federal Councilor! As far as the female employment rate is concerned, I would like to remind you of Lisbon - Lisbon 2000, incidentally the summit at which Austria was still particularly difficult, sanctions and the like - and the fact that the Lisbon project was launched there, among other things with the not entirely unambitious goal of making Europe the most competitive market in the world by 2010.

Among other things, an increase in the employment rate for women to 60 percent by 2010 has been planned, from the European average of currently around 55 percent - these are the figures from 2003. With a female employment rate of 62.8 percent, Austria is well above the European average and has the Lisbon target has already been met.

As far as unemployment figures are concerned - you also asked about this, Ms. Federal Councilor - Austria has 5.3 percent for October 2004 - I beg your pardon, I do not have any November data - according to Eurostat, that is, according to the European statistical survey methods , while the Europe of 25 has an average of 9.9 percent. Better than Austria are Ireland with 3.8 percent, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland with 4.1 percent and the Netherlands with 5.2 percent. If you will, we have the fourth lowest unemployment rate in relation to the Europe of 25. Overall, we currently have the third lowest unemployment rate in the Europe of 25.

 



Federal Councilor Engelbert Weilharter (Freedom, Styria): Mr. Federal Minister! Does the AMS also make efforts to better combine work and family?

 




Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 12

Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: It does it often, Mr Bundesrat, but within the scope of its possibilities. That means that things should and must remain limited to the labor market.

In certain cases, the AMS pays the so-called child care allowance. This year, 5,270 people, mainly women, received childcare allowance - that is the status at the end of November 2004. Private childcare facilities are also subsidized. The AMS also tries very hard to get people returning to work - the "i" is almost always in lower case.

I would like to point out that there is, for example, a program to train unemployed people, but also those returning to work, specifically for care professions - a program that has been quite successful. For two years, the AMS has qualified almost 5,000 unemployed people and re-entrants for care professions, giving men and women new professional opportunities here.

Two birds with one stone, because on the one hand it is a macroeconomic Austrian interest to interest and qualify people for care professions, and on the other hand it is of course also wise to qualify people who have become unemployed or those returning to work for more and better professional opportunities .

 



Federal Councilor Eva Konrad (Greens, Tyrol): Mr. Federal Minister! To what extent were the funds for company-related labor market promotion demonstrably used according to gender aspects in the years 2000 to 2004, and how were the corresponding guidelines established?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: I would like to tie in with what I said a few minutes ago: The promotion of the labor market as a whole, including company-related ones, of course, tries very hard to put women's qualifications first. However, company-related labor market promotion is specifically geared towards new investments, large-scale investments, for example if 100 new jobs are created at location X with certain measures, investment measures, 380 new jobs at location Y or even 1,000 jobs. We are particularly committed to these projects and, I believe, very successfully.

I assume, without being able to give you precise statistical data now, that due to the given industrial structure and company structure, it cannot be assumed in every individual case that predominantly women’s jobs are promoted with such funds.

I don't have any figures in front of me now, I haven't seen them anywhere in the last few months, but I will endeavor to send you an analysis in writing of the extent to which the jobs created with company-related labor market promotion have benefited women and to what extent gender mainstreaming has not only benefited theoretically, but has also been achieved in practice.

 




Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 13

Federal Councilor Engelbert Weilharter (Freedom, Styria): Mr. Federal Minister! My question to you:

1389 / M-BR / 2004

"How has the level of the Chamber of Labor's income from the AK contributions developed in recent years?"

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Mr Federal Council! (Interjection from the Federal Council Gruber.) The development looks as follows: According to our data, the income amounted to € 221 million in 1996, then rose to almost € 250 million by the year 2000, was € 270 million in 2003 and will be around € 280 in 2004 Million €.

 



Federal Councilor Engelbert Weilharter (Freedom, Styria): Mr. Federal Minister! What is the sum of the amounts that have been transferred to the Chamber of Labor in the last few years in accordance with the applicable expense reimbursement ordinance?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Mr Federal Council! The income of the individual chambers of labor from the flat-rate reimbursement of expenses, which is due to a legal interest group or a voluntary collective agreement-capable professional association in legal disputes in labor law matters according to the Expense Compensation Act, is not shown separately in the financial statements, so unfortunately I have no information on the present question on the basis of the documents available to me can give. This figure could only be collected and subtracted from the Chamber of Labor or the Chamber of Labor themselves; it would involve a certain administrative burden. But, as I said, I have to tell you: we don't have that, we can't do that - only the chambers of labor can do that.

 



Federal Councilor Elisabeth Kerschbaum (Greens, Lower Austria): Dear Minister! As the competent supervisory body according to Section 91 of the Chamber of Labor Act, you can tell us with certainty how many legal information and consultations the Chamber of Labor gave or carried out in 2003, the amount of money to which the Chamber of Labor was entitled for its members, and in how many cases the Chamber of Labor received Chamber of Labor participated in the assessment process?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: I don't have such a pronounced memory to have the figures published by the AK in my head now. I know that money has been won in a large number of cases, and the sums involved are substantial. (Federal Council Reisenberger: I believe that! - Shouts at the SPÖ: Indeed!) I can only point out once more, Ms. Federal Councilor, that I will send you the exact numerical answer at a later date; I don't know the numbers now.

 



Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 14

President Anna Elisabeth Haselbach: Thank you, Federal Minister.

Next additional question? - Mr Federal Councilor Todt, please.

 


Federal Councilor Reinhard Todt (SPÖ, Vienna): Mr. Federal Minister! The Chamber of Commerce has reduced its contributions. But isn't the dynamic of the contribution basis significantly higher in the Chamber of Commerce levy than in the Chamber of Labor levy?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Mr Federal Council! I can't tell you that out of my head either. It is clear that the dynamics of the AK contributions correspond to the dynamics of the wage development below the maximum contribution base. In the last few years this was the case with an annual average of around 3 percent.

On the subject of the Chamber of Commerce, I can only say one thing to you: that considerable savings efforts have been made there, that President Leitl assumes that around 30 percent or almost a third of contributions have been saved, but on the benefits side, benefits have nonetheless been increased.

I am aware of a concept here: minus 30 - plus 30; minus 30 percent in contributions, plus 30 percent in benefits for the economy, for Austria as a business location.

Because you are already addressing the topic: We are talking about savings of around € 150 million. However, I am not yet aware of comparable efforts and, above all, comparable amounts, savings contributions, on the part of the Chamber of Labor. (Federal Council Todt: Not possible if the deliberations increase!)

At your interjection: One of the core businesses of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce is foreign trade promotion. If I were an official of the Chamber of Commerce, which I am not, I would tell you: Austria's exports are also increasing, but we can get by with low contributions. (Applause from the ÖVP and the Freedom Party.)

 



Federal Councilor Herta Wimmler (ÖVP, Styria): Dear Federal Minister! You have already answered some of my question, but I would like to ask you anyway: The coalition agreement 2000 stipulated that the social partners should make savings. How did - you have already mentioned in part - the AK and the Chamber of Commerce responded to this request?

 



Federal Minister for Economics and Labor Dr. Martin Bartenstein: Mrs. Federal Councilor! Whether this happened as a result of the comment in the coalition agreement of 2000 or on his own - I assume that President Leitl would have done this without any comments and without the wishes of the federal government in the coalition agreement - the Austrian Chamber of Commerce has made considerable savings and ultimately also enables significant premium reductions.

Once again: The amount that I have been informed of compared to business as usual, i.e. compared to the contribution amounts that would have been reached with normal extrapolation, is minus € 150 million, which corresponds to about 2 billion schillings in the old currency.


Federal Council stenographic protocol 716. Session / page 15

On the AK side, I have already talked about the revenue dynamics.

I'm not someone who says it's easy to compare dissimilarities. They are different interest groups with different tasks (Federal Council Gruber: These are apples and pears!), But the fact that some do a lot, ultimately also making a contribution to lowering ancillary wage costs, while the others have so far not made any noticeable savings contributions, is not entirely understandable for me.

That’s why I’m having a good conversation with President Tumpel to explore possibilities here. I believe that we should seek consensus here and that great importance should also be attached to the responsibility of the AK and the social partners as a whole.

I think transparency is the order of the day. From my political practice - I don't know how you are, ladies and gentlemen - I know that hardly any Austrian or Austrian knows that 0.5 percent of his / her wages are paid as a compulsory membership fee under one with the health insurance contributions .

I think it would do the discussion very well to create more transparency here and clearly tell the Austrians what they are paying here, partly voluntarily, but overall as a compulsory contribution, and then to compare the services provided.

 


President Anna Elisabeth Haselbach: Thank you, Federal Minister.

We come to the fourth question, put by Federal Councilor Gansterer. I ask for the reading.

 


Federal Councilor Michaela Gansterer (ÖVP, Lower Austria): Dear Minister! My question:

1386 / M-BR / 2004

"How did Austrian exports develop this year?"