Germany slashes GDP growth f’cast

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    BERLIN- The German government on Wednesday slashed its growth forecast for Europe’s largest economy to 3 percent this year, a sharp revision from last autumn’s estimate of 4.4 percent, caused by a second coronavirus lockdown.

    Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said he expected the upswing to continue in 2022 and for the economy, which suffered its second-biggest economic plunge in post-war history last year, to regain its pre-crisis level in the second half of next year.

    “We are currently seeing a flattening of the number of infections, which is giving hope,” Altmaier said, but he cautioned that the situation remained serious because of a more infectious virus variant.

    “We must therefore not gamble away what has been achieved,” Altmaier said, against the backdrop of calls to ease lockdown measures soon.

    Chancellor Angela Merkel and state leaders agreed last week to extend the lockdown until mid-February as Germany, once a role model for fighting the pandemic, struggles with a second wave and record daily numbers of COVID-19 deaths.

    “Now is not the time to talk publicly about opening up and easing (restrictions),” Altmaier said. “We must have the patience in the coming days and weeks to carry on with our measures until the health risk for citizens is adequately reduced.”