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ECONOMY

Nuder critical of new Lisbon strategy

Swedish Finance Minister Pär Nuder stressed that the European Union’s Lisbon Strategy must continue to focus on economic growth, a better environment and a proper social net at a meeting of the ECOFIN Council last week.

He considers that the European Commission’s new proposal to turn the strategy around has downgraded the environmental and social aspects.

“I think the Commission has an outdated way of looking at growth. It is not so that a better environment and a proper social net curbs growth. On the contrary a good environment and social security provide better conditions for growth and jobs in the long term,” he says.

Steel prices continue to rise

Thyssen Krupps is set to increase steel sheet prices by 3-5 per cent in April. Should the market accept the hike, steel sheet prices are set to increase by 13-15 per cent in the first half of the year.

Anders Ullberg, SSAB’s CEO, does not wish to speculate on price trends later in the year but he does discern a better balance between supply and demand on most markets.

Telia Sonera – a gold mine for the Treasury

The Swedish state will receive a 2.5 billion kronor dividend from Telia Sonera in 2005 and later in the spring the Treasury will receive a windfall of 5 billion kronor when the company redeems stock for 10 billion kronor.

Swedes paid yet more in taxes

Swedes paid 501 billion kronor in income and wealth taxes in 2003 – an increase of 6.6 per cent year-on-year, according to Statistics Sweden (SCB) and the Swedish National Financial Management Authority (ESV).

Sources: Dagens Nyheter, Svenska Dagbladet, Dagens Industri

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ECONOMY

Sweden’s new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Sweden, one of the world's biggest international donors, is planning drastic aid cuts in the coming years, the country's new right-wing government said in its budget bill presented on Tuesday.

Sweden's new right-wing govt slashes development aid

Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson’s government said it planned to reduce the country’s international aid by 7.3 billion kronor ($673 million) in 2023, and by another 2.2 billion kronor in 2024.

That is around a 15-percent reduction from what had been planned by the previous left-wing government and means Sweden will abandon its foreign aid target of 1 percent of gross national income.

International aid for refugees will be capped at a maximum of eight percent of its aid, and will also be reduced.

According to the specialised site Donor Tracker, Sweden was the world’s eighth-biggest international aid donor in terms of absolute value last year, and the third-biggest in proportion to the size of its economy, donating 0.92 percent of its gross national income, behind Luxembourg and Norway.

The new government, which is backed for the first time by the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, had announced in its government programme last month that it would be cutting foreign aid.

Since 1975, Stockholm has gone further than the UN’s recommendation of donating at least 0.7 percent of its wealth to development aid.

Despite its growth forecast being revised downwards — the economy is expected to shrink by 0.4 percent next year and grow by 2 percent in 2024 — the 2023 budget forecasts a surplus of 0.7 percent of gross domestic product.

It calls for an additional 40 billion kronor in spending, with rising envelopes for crime fighting and the building of new nuclear reactors, as well as a reduction in taxes on petrol and an increase in the defence budget.

The new government is a minority coalition made up of Kristersson’s conservative Moderates, the Christian Democrats and the Liberal party, backed in parliament by their key ally the Sweden Democrats to give them a majority.

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