German Chancellor Angela Merkel looks on prior to the start of the weekly cabinet meeting at the Chancellery in Berlin, on October 24, 2018. (Photo by Tobias SCHWARZ - AFP)
Agence France-Presse

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, spoke in defence of the UN migration pact as she said the policies were scrutiny in the Bundestag during a debate on the 2019 draft budget.

Merkel gave the defence while addressing parliament for the first time since announced that she would step down as leader of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

“This pact for migration, as well as the refugee pact, is the right attempt to find a solution to solve global problems, acting internationally and with one another,’’ she said on Wednesday.

One of the three candidates vying to take over the helm of the centre-right party, Health Minister, Jens Spahn has hit out at the pact in recent days.

Spahn is calling for the deal, which is supposed to be approved Dec. 10 and 11 at a UN summit in Morocco, to be put to debate again at the CDU conference in December.

Several EU countries have vowed not to sign the agreement.

But Merkel said the UN pact, which would set out guidelines for the treatment of migrants for the first time, was in the “national interest”.

“We want workers building stadiums in Qatar to be treated sensibly and not to be exploited, not for there to be child labour.’’

She also stressed that nothing was going to be signed and nothing was legally binding.

The policies of Merkel’s coalition government across the board were under scrutiny in the Bundestag during a debate on the 2019 draft budget, traditionally a chance for the opposition to ask tough questions of the German chancellor.

The budget provides for spending totaling 356.4 billion euros ($405.9 billion), almost 13 billion euros more than in the current year and a record high.

Merkel’s broad coalition government, comprising the CDU; its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU) and the Social Democrats (SPD), aims to boost spending on defence, development aid and social affairs.

It has proposed reductions in health insurance contributions and a rise in pension payments, along with benefits for families, amounting to 9.8 billion euros in total.

The government wants to make changes to tax brackets to compensate for inflation.

It is also planning to create thousands of new jobs in the security sector and the customs department.

Opposition parties have charged that Finance Minister, Olaf Scholz, had only just managed to present a budget with no new net borrowing for the sixth year in a row.

And that economic growth was set to decline after years of low interest and stable growth.

Peter Boehringer of the opposition far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), who chairs the Bundestag’s budgetary committee, said the government is trying to use tricks and had omitted certain items to balance the books.

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