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National Data, Trade Statement and Legislative Sessions: December 2014 in review

David Neibig

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December began in the closing stages of the 51st session of the Bundeskammer, consisted of eight entire sessions and concluded about halfway through the 60th session of the Bundeskammer. The MDP won all of these elections winning between 299 seats (52nd session the Bundeskammer) and 497 seats (60th session of the Bundeskammer). Despite having an average of 438 Bundeskammer Delegates during the month, the government succeeded in passing only seven of the 26 bills debated during December. The bills that passed were at the Free Condom Act (356-144), Juvenile Rehabilitation Programme Act (269-231), Free Airwaves Act (367-133), Public Internet Access Act (257-243), Professional City Managers Act (382-118), Meritocratic Government Act (303-197) and the Prohibition of Firearms Act (277-223).

The government failed to pass several pieces of legislation that the MDP leadership has campaigned for strongly. These include repeated defeats for the Congestion Charge Implementation Bill which was debated and rejected eight times during December, the Green Preservation Bill that fell 3 times and the Freedom of information Bill that was rejected six times.

1 January 2015 saw the Bundesstatistikamt (Federal Statistics Office) release its monthly national data figures. The national economic index (NWIX) rose by nearly 50 points (28.83%) to reach a value of 222.8371, the national production (NHIX) and social well-being (SoWeiX) indices both saw more modest gains, rising by 28.2247 points (12.41%) and 15.8954 points (10.5%). These figures combined led the national development index (NFIX) to rise by 33.7323 points (18.96%) to a value of 211.6047.

The rise in the economic index was primarily driven by the growth of the country's workforce which rose by nearly 33% during December, strong GDP growth and a fall in the unemployment rate (from 9.43% to 7.71%) also helped raise the NWIX. The overall growth of the NWIX was held back however by a fall in the average income of the countries workers; a drop in the GDP per capita and GDP per worker figures; and despite the fall in the unemployment rate, the unemployment count rose by just over 20,000 thereby limiting the growth of the NWIX.

The growth of the social well-being index (SoWeiX) was caused by improvements in all of the measures that constitute the index, with crime and disease figures falling and happiness, literacy and life expectancy all rising.

The rise in the national production index (NHIX) was caused entirely by increases in the output of fuel and construction materials as food and metal production rates remained unchanged since 1 December 2014. Both fuel output and construction material output saw significant rises in the total output of refined resources with the national petrol production rising 25% and that of lumber rising by 80% during December 2014. There was an associated fall in the net output of raw fuel and construction material resources of 49.4% and 17.25% respectively.

The rise in fuel production coincided with the opening of two new oil fired power stations required to power the country's expanded network of warehouses and the rapidly Großraum Schwerfurt which now encompasses a population of 150,000, an area had less than that had less than 10,000 inhabitants on 1 December 2014. According to the Bundesstatistikamt the population of Neibigland passed 3.5 million on 9 December 2014 and passed 4 million 17 days later. Overall the population grew by almost 1 million or just over 30%. Due to the limited amount of land purchased by the country during December, the population density rose by 28.24% from 1384.5 people per square kilometre to 1775.5 people per square kilometre. The country's population growth is roughly in line with what previous Bundesstatistikamt estimates had predicted. The latest estimates from the Bundesstatistikamt are that the population will reach 4.5 million in the second week of January 2015, 5 million in the second half of January and 5.5 million in the first half of February.

As with previous data releases from the Bundesstatistikamt, the leaders of the major parties were attempting to claim the high ground following the announcement of the figures. Doreen Kästner (PKN, Economy and Employment Spokesperson)

criticised the policies of President Neibig and his MDP government during a debate in the Bundeskammer that evening, during which she said:

The President said that we should judge the progress that the country is making based on the figures released by the Bundesstatistikamt rather than an unsubstantiated claims and speculation. Well now that the data has been released, the entire country can see that we in the PKN were spot on when we said that the country was being mismanaged by the president, his shambolic cabinet and the MDP's clueless economic policies to the extent to which they can be called policies.

His mismanagement of the country is so bad that more and more people are fleeing in fear of their future under a continued MDP government that is turning this country into an overcrowded and anti-aspirational hellhole. Wages are down, GDP per capita is down, GDP per worker is down and despite creating over 12,000 new public sector jobs in an already bloated state apparatus, that will cost the government an extra €867 million per year, there are 20,000 more people out of work than a month ago. The total unemployment count is now almost as high as the combined population of our two largest urban areas.

Melanie Maurer (GF leader) criticised the government's environmental record telling ARN TV's evening news programne Tagesschau:

All in all the figures the show that the country's economy is doing reasonably well. But the government is continuing to neglect the concerns that our party and many citizens of Neibigland have about the environmental implications of the country's economic and industrial policy. The president talks endlessly desire about his desire to see have environmental protection enshrined in law but has yet to deliver. He keeps using the PKN's opposition as an excuse for failing to deliver but given the size of his party's majority he needs to look at his own benches and acknowledge the fact his failure to do is based on the fact that he cannot maintain discipline within his own party.

Minister of State for Finance Irene Thaler (MDP) disagreed with the claims made by Kästner telling Politik von Heute:

The PKN have done it again; they've picked out the few statistics that are poor and ignored the fact that the vast majority are showing vast improvement. Yes it's disappointing that average wages and GDP have fallen and that the unemployment count continues to rise and we must do better to reverse both of these trends going forward but these are just a small number of the measures used by the Bundesstatistikamt. The PKN continues to moan about more public sector jobs but fails to see the vital role that these jobs play in our economy and the proportion of the workforce that these jobs make up.

The economy created nearly 980,000 new jobs during December which is vastly more than the 608,000 created during November, the fall in wages has been lower in December than in any other month on record and despite the addition of 12,000 vital public sector jobs the proportion of workforce employed in the public sector reached an all-time low of just 1.42%. A well educated and healthy workforce that feels safe and secure is absolutely essential to our country's economic progress. The country's electricity supply and fuel for its power stations is just as crucial as is the upkeep of of buildings and the availability of food. Based on these facts any opposition to paying for teachers; police officers; nurses; farm, forestry or oil workers; schools; hospitals or police stations can only be attributed to an ideological hatred of anything funded from the public purse rather than for any rational economic reason.

The PKN didn't even dare to mention any of the social statistics reported by the Bundesstatistikamt since all of them showed an improvement that can be attributed to the government's leadership on health, education and public safety matters. It is the MDP that is delivering that not only for the economy but for society as well.

Minister of State for Trade Felix Meyer (MDP) delivered a trade statement to the Bundeskammer on 2 January 2015 in response to the following question from Klaus Weiss (FDP leader):

What is the government's current policy on foreign trade and what is the current trade balance of the country?

The reply from Minister of State Meyer was:

It continues to be the case that the government will prioritise domestic need for indigenous resources over exports, the government endeavours to remain entirely self-sufficient in terms of food and fuel supply and to the greatest possible extent in terms of construction materials.

The government's current trade balance shows a loss of €703 million. Exports for December totalled €871 million while imports totalled €2.434 billion, -

At this point in the proceedings there was a lengthy interruption caused by uproar and anger on the opposition benches including cries of "disgrace" and "shame on you". Once order had been restored an additional urgent question was posed by Julia Christian (PKN Trade Spokesperson):

Can the Minister of State please explain how the country went from a trade balance showing a profit of €845 million to a loss of €703 million in the space of just one month indicating that we now have a trade deficit of over €1.5 billion per month. A trade deficit of that size accounts for over 13.5% of government tax income.

Felix Meyer responded, saying:

As the country is self-sufficient in both food and fuel and produces enough construction materials domestically for all necessary building repairs, all of the imports during December were for"one off" purchases of nonindigenous construction materials necessary for the expansion of Schwerfurt. The expansion of Schwerfurt also demanded a large amounts of lumber totalling over 215,000 tonnes which amounts to over 90% of the country's lumber output for December. The increased domestic demand for lumber meant that very little could be exported during December, since lumber accounts for between 55 and 60% of all historical exports both by value and volume, it was always to be expected that export income in December would be lower than it would be in any normal month this coupled with the fact that the country needed to buy over 215,000 tonnes of concrete and the same amount of brick means that export income fell at the same time that imports expenditure rose. The fact that our nation exports lumber on a regular basis means that we should be able to run a trade surplus during January and thereby reduce the overall trade loss. Based on our current domestic demand for lumber and the current market price it is not unreasonable to suggest that lumber exports could earn the country €40 million or more per day over the coming weeks.

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