Schr�der Plans Big Offensive on the Internet
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[Berlin, GERMANY] Mastering the Internet is to be part of general education in Germany within the next few years - regardless of citizens' income and social background. That is the goal of a 10 point program to be presented by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder (SPD) at the Expo in Hanover today according to information in the Berliner Zeitung. At an Initiative D21 conference, Schröder will pledge that every school in the country will be equipped with personal computers and Internet access by next year. Furthermore, all public libraries will receive access to the Internet free of charge. Also, the Chancellor wants to promote the sponsoring of PC's for schools and other educational institutions by businesses.
According to the newspaper, beginning in October, employment offices are to offer every unemployed person the requisite basic skills for working with the global data network through an "Internet license." The Berliner Zeitung was also informed that the Chancellor wants to guarantee every employee freedom from taxes for using the Internet privately on employers' computers - the Federal Ministry of Finance had been considering viewing this as a monetary advantage similar to wages and charging income tax. What's more, Schroder wants to do away with another tax ambiguity when using the Internet in the course of performing one's job: in the future, employees who use their private personal computer largely for business purposes should be able to claim it on their tax return as an income related expense, as long as it has Internet access.
According to the program, which the federal government wants to promote together with states and counties, the bureaucracy is to be brought into the Internet as well. All federal services which can be conducted through the Internet are to be made available online by 2005. As such, it is planned that in the future federal student aid can be handled electronically from the application to repayment. According to Schröder, Germany cannot afford to waste talent. He wants to avoid people being cut off from the Internet just because they don't possess the financial ability or skills.