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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Wednesday

New ministers sworn in, concerns over food inflation, Austria loses out on Eurovision final and more news on Wednesday.

Members of the band
Members of the band "LUM!X feat. Pia Maria", perform on behalf of Austria during the first semifinal of the Eurovision Song contest 2022 on May 10, 2022 in Turin. (Photo by Marco BERTORELLO / AFP)

New ministers for Austria sworn in 

Austria’s Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has sworn in a new Digital State Secretary,  Florian Tursky, and Tourism State Secretary, Susanne Kraus-Winkler. 

The newly appointed ministers are all in the ÖVP party, and  the appointments were made after the resignation of two ministers triggered a reshuffle.

The new Minister of Agriculture Norbert Totschnig (ÖVP) could not be sworn in because of a positive Covid-19 test. Due to the reshuffle, the Minister of Labor, the economist Martin Kocher (ÖVP) will be given a “super ministry” dealing with work and industry. 

The political scientist Peter Filzmaie analyses the new appointments in a report by broadcaster ORF. He comments that Norbert Totschnig as director of the ÖVP Farmers’ Association and an East Tyrolean will fill gaps left by Minister Elisabeth Köstinger (who was Vice President of the Farmers’ Association) and the Tyrolean former minister Margarete Schramböck. He also notes that Kocher is the minister with the highest level of trust among the population.

READ MORE: A withdrawal of the Kurz era: Two Austrian Ministers Resign

Chancellor Karl Nehammer’s recent announcement that he was looking into skimming off the profits of state-owned companies, which benefited disproportionately from the energy crisis caused unrest within the ÖVP party.

Nonetheless political adviser Thomas Hofer expects Nehammer to be elected federal party chairman of the ÖVP party with a result of well over 90 percent. 

Rumours that former Minister Elisabeth Köstinger wants forestry job 

Several Austrian outlets report on rumours that former Austrian agriculture minister Elisabeth Köstinger may apply for a position in the Österreichische Bundesforste AG (Austrian Federal Forests) (ÖBf). 

The state-owned company has just advertised a board position with a salary of 350,000 euros. The application period for this runs until May 25th – and the ex-minister is believed to be the preferred candidate. However, a degree is a prerequisite for the job  and Köstinger did not complete her studies, the OE24 website reports.

The company is completely owned by the Republic of Austria, and Köstinger, as the former agriculture minister, chose almost all the company’s current supervisory board members, it reports.

Increasing diesel and fertiliser costs driving food price inflation

According to Statistics Austria, as of March, food cost an average of 5.4 percent more than a year ago, and the price increases for some staple foods were even higher, such as fruit, vegetables, milk, cheese and bread. Headline inflation was 6.8 percent. For April it should be 7.2 percent.

The Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) recently released a special report on the topic of inflation, especially in food prices and agricultural products and the factors responsible for the rise in prices.

It found the rising cost of diesel fuel, which was getting more expensive even before the Russian attack on Ukraine, and rocketing fertiliser prices were driving price increases. According to the Austrian Chamber of Agriculture (LK), nitrogen fertiliser (calcium ammonium nitrate) increased in price by more than 200 percent between summer 2021 and 2022, broadcaster ORF reports.

Austria misses out on Eurovision Song Contest final for third time in a row

Austria has missed the final of the Eurovision Song Contest for the third time in a row, having sent its youngest ever participants. Lum!x (19) and Pia Maria (18) could not convince the jury and the audience with their song “Halo”. Eurovision fans are now calling for a public preliminary vote, Der Standard newspaper reports. 

You can watch Austria’s failed entry here.

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TODAY IN AUSTRIA

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Covid-19 numbers on the rise, wages shrinking as cost of living increases, Finance Ministry official online communication and more news from Austria on Friday.

Today in Austria: A roundup of the latest news on Friday

Austria’s Covid commission alerts to 70,000 daily infections soon

Austria’s commission to assess the pandemic situation, known as GECKO (Gesamtstaatliche COVID-Krisenkoordination), has alerted to rising Covid-19 numbers, Der Standard reports.

The commission believes the daily number of coronavirus infections could reach 70,000 already this summer. This is mainly because people have been travelling more than in previous years while wearing masks less often.

READ ALSO: Will Austria bring back its mask mandate before autumn?

Wages are shrinking and consumption is rising

Austria’s economy will grow somewhat more strongly this year than expected in March, ORF reported.

However, according to the June forecast of the economic research institutes WIFO and IHS, the outlook for the year’s second half is much gloomier.

Since inflation is higher than expected in March, gross real wages will fall by a historic 3.9 percent. However, if inflation falls, the real wages should increase significantly, about 5.3 percent, in 2023.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How Austria’s new finance measures could benefit you

Finance Ministry to contact FinanzOnline users

If Austria’s Finance Ministry contacts you, don’t worry: they will be checking everyone’s data on the FinanzOnline platform.

The goal is to have up-to-date account data so that all the announced bonuses and payments to counter the rising cost of living to be made quickly and with no issues.

The contact will happen via the FinanzOnline website and e-mail to users who allow email contact.

Of course, whenever the government or authorities announce they will reach out to people, there are always criminals looking to take advantage of it. Therefore, ensure that the message you received is from FinanzOnline and check the official website directly instead of clicking on links.

READ ALSO: When will you get your cost of living ‘bonus’ payments in Austria?

School holidays start in the east

Vienna, Lower Austria, and Burgenland students have started their nine-week summer vacations. In the remaining Austrian states, school holidays will only begin next week.

Classes will resume on September 5th for the east and September 12th in the Western states. Austria’s ÖAMTC traffic authority expects heavy traffic jams at the beginning of the month, especially as the summer holidays have also started in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and two German federal states.

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Austria in July 2022

A break in the heatwave

The west of Austria will have a small break from the heatwave this Friday, Austria’s meteorologic central ZAMG says. A cold front arrives from the west, and maximum temperatures will be between 18C to 21C in the region, with thunderstorms.

In Vienna and Burgenland, though, maximum temperatures continue high, reaching 35C during the day.

READ ALSO: Wild weather in Austria: How to protect yourself during summer storms

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