FRANKFURT, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Armin Laschet, the
conservative candidate bidding to succeed German Chancellor
Angela Merkel in this month's election, said he was confident
the European Central Bank (ECB) would achieve price stability,
as accelerating inflation hits savers.
"For me, it's alarming when small savings, pensions, life
insurances and building loan contracts lose value," Laschet was
quoted as telling the weekly Welt am Sonntag (WamS) newspaper.
"I'm sure the ECB will particularly fulfill its core task of
monetary stability ... But this also means that when interest
rates rise again the debt burden becomes an even bigger problem
for the state," he said in Saturday's edition.
Laschet's remarks a week ahead of the Sept. 26 general
election stand in contrast to comments made by his key expert
for fiscal and economic policies Friedrich Merz, who this week
lashed out at the ECB's loose monetary policy.
The ECB said this month it would trim emergency bond
purchases over the coming quarter, marking a first small step
towards unwinding the emergency aid that has propped up the euro
zone economy during the coronavirus pandemic.
This year, the ECB expects inflation of 2.2%, above its 2%
target, before falling to 1.7% in 2022 and 1.5% in 2023.
The latest German election poll, provided by Ipsos, puts the
conservative CDU/CSU bloc at 21% and the Social Democrats (SPD)
at 27%, piling pressure on Laschet to close the gap.
In an attack on his main opponent, Social Democrat
chancellor candidate and Finance Minister Olaf Scholz, Laschet
intensified his criticism over a money-laundering probe that has
involved raids on Scholz's ministry.
Earlier this month, German prosecutors raided the Financial
Intelligence Unit, an finance ministry agency, spotlighting
Germany's failings in tackling financial crime.
Shortly after the raids, Scholz - who also serves as vice
chancellor - expressed frustration over how the probe had been
handled by prosecutors.
"It's breaking a political taboo when the vice chancellor
questions the independence of the public prosecutor following a
raid on his ministry," Laschet told WamS.
(Reporting by Christoph Steitz
Editing by Helen Popper)