Diesel vehicles “discriminated against” in Sweden

Sweden has the lowest proportion of diesel-engine vehicles, and a vehicle tax on diesel-engine cars that is four times higher than on petrol-driven cars. Politicians and the car industry are now demanding that the punitive tax on diesel be removed.

“It’s all due to out-of-date prejudice about emissions from diesel engines,” says Anders Röj, fuel manager at Volvo Trucks.

Volvo to produce flexi-fuel vehicles

Volvo has now decided to offer S40 and V 50 medium-range cars with ethanol adapted engines as of next autumn.

Saab Automobile will be marketing an ethanol alternative – the Saab 9-5 Combi – as of next spring.

Tough labour market

The Swedish labour market has not picked up as yet despite the boom in the economy. Visible unemployment is at 4.9 per cent, down from 5.4 per cent year on year, but 3.1 per cent of the workforce are active on labour market programmes as compared to 2 per cent one year ago. This means that unemployment is at 7.9 per cent – an increase of 0.9 percentage points year on year.

Retail trade profits from bad weather

The Swedish Shoe, Textile & Clothing Retailers’ Association reports that sales of shoes rose by 39 per cent in November as a result of the bad weather that affected much of Sweden during the period.

Sales of clothes also rose, albeit by a more modest 3.5 per cent.

Orders continue to pour in

Statistics Sweden reports that new orders to Swedish industry increased by 2.7 per cent from September to October. This followed a 4.3 per cent upswing in the preceding month. Orders from the domestic market rose by 2.7 per cent and from the export market by 2.6 per cent.

The total volume of new orders rose by 0.1 per cent in November and industrial production rose by 1 per cent in October.

Telia Sonera caught up in Russian battle

Telia Sonera has been drawn into the ongoing power struggle around Russian mobile operators’ VimpelCom and Megafon, in which Telia is a majority shareholder.

The battle concerns a shareholding in Megafon, Russia’s third largest mobile operator, which has resulted in a bitter conflict between the Alfa Group (VimpelCom shareholder) and Russian Information Technology Minister Leonid Reiman. Alfa has accused Reiman of corruption and of concealing a holding in Megafon.

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri


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Swedish bank’s IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

A technical problem at Sweden's Swedbank on Thursday night gave customers a nasty surprise, with their account balances inexplicably going negative, payments impossible, and Swish payments no longer working.

Swedish bank's IT fault puts customer accounts in the red

By 11.30pm, more than 2,000 Swedbank customers had reported the fault to the site Downdetector, and the problem was still not solved by 17.00pm on Friday. 

“We have an ongoing IT disruption where certain customers see an incorrect balance on their accounts,” a message on the bank’s app read. “The reason is a planned update to our internal systems which went wrong. We apologise, of course, for that and are working as quickly as possible to fix the problem.” 

The Swish payment service has also been affected, with the service, which is owned collectively by Swedish banks, reporting on its site that there was a “technical disruption at Swedbank and Sparbank which might affect Swish payments from these banks”. 

Some Swedbank customers posted their negative account balances on Twitter, expressing shock at the incorrect figures. 

The disruption comes at the worst possible time for many Swedes. Many people are paid on the 25th of the month, meaning this Friday marks the start of the payday weekend. Many will have also scheduled their bill payments for this Friday. 

Marko Saric from Malmö saw his account balance drop by 1.2 million kronor, going half a million kronor into the red. 

“It’s just totally crazy,” he told SVT. “We were going to go out and shop for the weekend. It’s lovely weather and the kids want to go out, but we can’t use our card. We’ve got no cash. Everything is in the bank.” 

“You’re just completely blocked. Colleagues need to make emergency food parcels for you. It’s just crazy that something like this should happen.” 

In its statement, the bank assured customers that their money was “secure”, and that the bank still had the correct information on what their account balance should be. 

“Customers who feel that they have suffered economic damage as a result of the disruption should contact the bank,” the message said.