• Sweden edition
 
Swedish house scuppers privatisation plans

Swedish house scuppers privatisation plans

Published: 16 Mar 2011 16:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 16 Mar 2011 16:30 GMT+01:00

The Swedish Alliance coalition government has lost the right to sell off stakes in a slew of state-owned companies after a parliament decision on Wednesday afternoon.

The opposition of the Social Democrats, Green, Left and Sweden Democrat parties joined forces, voting to halt the sale of stakes in the SBAB bank, telecom firm TeliaSonera, power utility Vattenfall and Posten - the Swedish postal service.

Mats Odell, the chair of the economic affairs committee, launched a final attempt to persuade the opposition to come around to the government line in general, and specifically that selling off a small part of Vattenfall would be prudent in order to raise money for sorely needed investments.

"We would never consider losing control of Vattenfall," Odell said when he opened the debate in parliament on Wednesday.

Odell continued to argue that there really is no reason for the state to own companies in competitive markets where private companies operate.

But the minister's plea fell on deaf ears with the four opposition parties winning by by a margin of 172 to 170, putting a stop to sell offs which would have netted the taxpayer tens of billions of kronor.

Odell meanwhile defended state ownership of "natural monopolies" such as the alcohol retailer Systembolaget, and perhaps mining firm LKAB, as the business requires major decisions such as moving a significant part of the northern Swedish town of Kiruna.

The Riksdag vote on state-owned company sales is the most significant to date which the minority Alliance government has lost. It is a prestige issue for the government, whose goal is to sell assets for a total of 200 billion kronor ($31 billion) during the term of office.

The sell off plans include stakes held in firms such as the Nordea bank, airline SAS, telecom firm TeliaSonera, the postal service Posten and SBAB bank. Wednesday's vote in parliament concerned the stakes in SBAB, Posten and TeliaSonera.

Parliament has previously authorized the government to reduce state ownership in the three companies, but the four opposition parties have now voted to revoke the decision.

Furthermore the four parties argued that Vattenfall should remain state-owned. The Government has previously indicated a willingness to sell off some of its stake.

Financial markets minister Peter Norman chose to follow the setback in parliament from the background, declining to join the economic affairs committee debate, where the sale of state companies was taken up.

According to Norman's press secretary, the minister has a packed schedule, but he also noted that the debate was for the members of parliament.

Mats Odell, Norman's predecessor as minister with responsibility for selling state companies, said in the course of the debate that he could not understand why the Green Party had joined forces with the Sweden Democrats to halt the sales.

"The Sweden Democrats are driven by fear of foreign ownership, but for such an export-dependent country like Sweden, this comes across as a narrow-minded and outdated policy."

Swedish state finances are already in surplus, so from a financial point of view the sale of shares in SBAB, TeliaSonera, Sweden Post and Vattenfall is hardly necessary.

Some economic commentators are in fact of the opinion that the national debt is in danger of being too low.

Olle Holmgren at SEB bank is among them, arguing that it would lead to fewer government bonds in circulationreducing trade and adversely affect pricing.

"Swedish bonds are in demand by the pensions industry," Olle Holmgren said.

TT/The Local/pvs (news@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

17:09 March 16, 2011 by Nemesis
Good.

Embracing neo-liberalism is something that Sweden needs to avoid.

Making a small minority of people in Stockholm rich while forcing up prices for the ordinary population is something that should be avoided.

It sounds like the leaders of the government are consumed by the need to make bankers wealthier, at the expense of the ordinary people.

Systembolaget should be privatised and open to full competition.
20:05 March 16, 2011 by Damien_
Agree, Those investments do not need to come from the private sector, after all it was highly talked how sweden managed to have a superavit on their annual balance
21:17 March 16, 2011 by Jan M
Large scale privatisations are the clearest statement by a government that they have no faith in the long-term economic trajectory of a country. In the UK that was obvious, there's no reason why a Swedish government should be quite so desperate though. Unless of course they don't have an original and innovative thought in their heads and are trying to plug the gap with tax cuts fuelled by flogging state assets. Just a thought.
21:26 March 16, 2011 by DavidtheNorseman
Good. Well done for the Swedish people.
22:21 March 16, 2011 by rquick
Excellent. Competition because of privatisation (better prices for the customers, cough cough), has turned out to be a myth. Thank you opposition!
06:39 March 17, 2011 by rybo1
Well done! Commonsense prevails.
10:57 March 17, 2011 by johnny1939
I am so very happy for a change!
Today's headlines
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
House keys: Shutterstock.

On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends

Finding somewhere to live when you move to Sweden is a challenge. With changes afoot The Local caught up with an expert from letting agency Residensportalen to find out in what direction the market is going, and how Google Glasses may just help you find your dream home. READ () »

The Local List
Ten most disgusting Swedish foods
Salty liquorice, anyone? Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

Ten most disgusting Swedish foods

Swedish food is, of course, a matter of taste. But it's mostly disgusting. Our loyal followers on Twitter and Facebook shared what they thought were the worst of them all. READ () »

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'
Defence Minister Karin Enström. File photo: TT

Sweden wants cruise missiles 'for defence'

The Swedish government has announced plans to beef up its defence forces by fitting its fleet of Gripen fighter jets with long-range cruise missiles. READ () »

Swede of the Week
Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'
Swedes vote in the 2010 elections. File photo: Dan Hansson/TT

Sweden's oldest would-be MP: 'They promised I wouldn't get in'

Gösta Arvedson, 89, is the oldest Riksdag candidate in Sweden, but our Swede of the Week explains that the Liberal Party (Folkpartiet) had to make some unusual promises for him to put his name forward. READ () »

Elections 2014
Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote
The Green Party is one of only two parties devoting their websites to the EU elections. Here campaign manager Emma Rung presents the party's posters. Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT

Most Swedes lack info ahead of EU vote

The majority of Swedes feel the country's political parties are not doing enough to inform them about the upcoming European Parliament elections. Only two of the eight parties have dedicated their homepages to the May 25th polls. READ () »

Fatal Norrköping Brawl
Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders
Swedish police on the scene following Monday's fatal brawl. File: TT

Local church tried to stop Norrköping murders

The Syrian-Orthodox Church in Ektorp had tried to quell tensions between two rival families just hours before bad blood spilled into a massive brawl and two brothers lost their lives. READ () »

JobTalk Sweden
'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'
The bridge that connects Sweden to the European continent. File: L.E. Daniel Larsson/Flickr

'Foreigners don't need to show banks Swedish ID'

The Swedish agency that helps Europeans fight impediments to the EU principle of free movement has revealed an increase in complaints, including one from a foreign citizen unable to open a bank account in Sweden. READ () »

Eurovision 2014
Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip
Sanna Nielsen in the new clip. Photo: YouTube (screenshot)

Pig heart shatters in Sweden's Eurovision clip

Sweden's Eurovision hopeful Sanna Nielsen released the official video for the song Undo on Wednesday, a clip featuring leather, slow motion destruction, and a frozen pig's heart and some violence. READ () »

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds
Swedish apartments. File: The Local

Software robot pinches Swedish flats in seconds

A Swedish landlord suspects that a property fixer has set up a software robot to sign up for new flats on the market within seconds, and is charging house hunters to use the service. READ () »

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'
Photo: Johan Nilsson/TT

Swedish zoo fire 'kills only the spiders'

Twenty-five fire fighters were on hand on Wednesday night when a fire broke out in a southern Sweden animal park. The vast majority of the animals were unharmed, but the cluster of spiders wasn't so lucky. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Shutterstock
Sponsored Article
On the move: Sweden's shifting mobility trends
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 23
TT
Gallery
Inside the 850-year-old king's coffin
Features
Sponsored: South-eastern Sweden offers Öland beaches and more
Gallery
Swedish underwear shop puts staff in front of the camera
Gallery
IN PICTURES: The Local's Property of the Week - Täby
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - India Unlimited
Features
Sponsored: India+Sweden Week - A film, food, and finance feast
National
University applications rocket to record high
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 18-20
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Advertisement:
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

718
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com