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Disco ministry and geyser in roundabout: This is how wasted tax money works in Germany

You could actually take it with humor, but in view of falling economic output and rising unemployment due to the Covid crisis, the corners of the mouth tend to pull down when you take a look at the new Schwarzbuch (Black Book). Every year, the Association of Taxpayers lists serious and bizarre cases of wasted tax money.

And the selection is again large in the 48th edition. To be more precise, there are 100 exemplary cases that the Reiner Holznagel Association has compiled at the municipal, state and federal level. Need an example? For three years, the mobile disco “Dance Cube” from the Federal Ministry of Economics toured the country in a shipping container in order to promote more energy efficiency.

Interested citizens should be able to supply the disco with electricity through dance movements. Puff cake! Contrary to what was announced, the mobile dance room was not energy self-sufficient. In return, the costs hit deep in the public purse. The project ended up costing taxpayers 1.8 million euros.

But not only the federal government, but also local authorities and states can be responsible for at least dubious spending policies. In the “Really bizarre” category, the taxpayers' association reports on a “port balcony” in Hanau. It is an oversized wooden bench that stands on a rusty steel platform. In the immediate vicinity there are ordinary benches on which the view of the Main can be enjoyed just as relaxed. There is only one small difference: the 4.80 by 5.50 meter "work of art" (City of Hanau) cost taxpayers more than 80,000 euros.

The city of Eschborn is also located in Hesse. There the upper had bought a fire truck for 680,000 euros. But at 17 tons, the device exceeded the permissible weight by one ton. The city had to sell the truck again - albeit with a loss of 240,000 euros.

"Expensive image"
In the chapter “Expensive image” there is the case “Thank you is expensive”. The Federal Ministry of Agriculture addressed this in the form of advertisements in four Rhineland-Palatinate daily newspapers to the citizens there. The background to this was a meeting of the EU agriculture ministers on August 31 and September 1, 2020 in Koblenz. A special highlight was a "Thanks to the dear Rhineland-Palatinate people for their hospitality!" Cost: almost 50,000 euros.

The association also listed twelve cases in North Rhine-Westphalia. One of them has its origins in 2018 when the taxpayers' association in North Rhine-Westphalia criticized plans by the city of Mohnheim to build an artificial geyser in a roundabout. In April of this year, the city started construction. Doubly annoying: Because the artificial geyser, which is supposed to throw a twelve meter high water fountain into the air, costs 600,000 euros, half more than originally planned. When asked by the taxpayers' association, the city of Mohnheim did not reveal at what rhythm the geyser should erupt. The artistic idea behind the geyser was based on the unpredictability of natural phenomena, it was said.

State economy risk
For the first time, the association is devoting a separate chapter to the state economy. There are enough reasons for this, because the state economy did not only grow with the Corona crisis, the number of public companies and investments had already increased before that. In addition to criticism, the taxpayers' association also proposes solutions. He advises a “brake on participation” and more transparency. This is the only way citizens and parliamentarians can control the administration and get an idea of ​​the risks that are being taken. In addition, terms such as “public welfare mission” and “services of general interest” should be more clearly defined and participation reports should be drawn up according to uniform and comparable standards.

In addition to the book, the association lists many cases on its multimedia research platform . In times of massive state expansion and freshly squeezed money, the taxpayers' association will in all probability not run out of materials. Perhaps the 49th “Black Book” will appear again at a time when the cases of wasted tax money can be viewed with more humor.

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