Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Das Wowerkind?

Berlin begins to face the brave new world of economic reality:

The German capital is looking for ways to reduce costs, following a court ruling denying it federal support to pay off its mammoth 61.6 billion euros ($77 billion) debt.

The ruling by the Federal Constitutional Court last week came as a stunning reverse for Berlin's charismatic Mayor Klaus Wowereit, who was just one month ago re-elected to a new term.

"I was not so naive to believe that l would be returning to Berlin with a trunk full of money. But the negative news is that we are not to get any money at all," said the man nicknamed Wowi by the city's tabloid press.

....Every year Berlin, which has a population of around 3.3 million, has to pay 2.5 billion euros in interest on its debts.

Which the FLUBA Currency Converter makes to be just shy of $1,000 per year per ein Berliner. But, they've got plenty of options for relief, from which to choose:

Among the belt-tightening measures suggested were cuts to the culture budget, introducing university fees for students and selling off some of the 270,000 city-owned apartments.

For years, there has been speculation that one of Berlin's three heavily subsidised opera houses might have to close. .... Currently, the powerful State Opera House where Daniel Barenboim wields the baton, is being restored at a cost of 130 million euros.

....The three Berlin universities - the Free University and Technical University in the west, and the Humboldt University in the central Mitte district, could face pressure to introduce fees.

The cost of running two zoos - one at Tierpark in the eastern part of the city, the other in Charlottenburg, close to the Zoologischer Garten railway station - has also come under question.

Some of Berlin's many libraries, sports Facilities and swimming pools could also face closure as the city battles to regain financial viability in the coming years.

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