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Budget ready despite asylum issue

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08:27 CEST+02:00
The much-negotiated government budget for next year is ready for Prime Minister Göran Persson to present to parliament when the new session opens on Tuesday - but he could be doing so without the support of the Social Democrats' allies, the Greens and the Left Party.

The issue which has so far prevented a full agreement is the question of giving an amnesty to asylum seekers, which both the Greens and the Left Party are pushing for. The matter has now been taken up at the party leader level.

But with the exception of this thorny issue, the budget has been thoroughly negotiated and, says a TT source, the Social Democrats are prepared to present it to parliament without the smaller parties' support.

On Monday the Social Democratic Parliamentary Group gave the budget the seal of approval.

According to finance minister Pär Nuder, the budget includes a proposal for an income tax cut as compensation for increased general social security contributions. The finance department says that will give people with higher incomes a tax reduction of around 180 kronor per month.

"I am satisfied with the budget," said Nuder.

"It means that many more will get word, education or work experience. All three parties have been able to leave a strong mark [on the budget] so I am hopeful that we can come to an agreement," he said.

The Greens, for example, have been able to keep the income from an environmental tax at 3.6 billion kronor, while the Left Party managed to extract a promise from the government to dish out another couple of billion to local councils.

TT's sources reported that the government has softened on the question of an amnesty for people whose application for residency has been declined but who cannot be sent home. This group includes Iraqis and Somalians, as well as the so-called 'apathetic' children.

What remains to be seen, however, is whether an amnesty will extend to the asylum seekers who have gone missing in Sweden. The government's allies are now demanding that at least the 'hidden' asylum seekers with children should get a residence permit.

According to government figures, there are some 10,000 hidden asylum seekers in Sweden, of whom 80% have children.

But Tomas Eneroth, the chairman of the social insurance committee, said that the Social Democrats are holding firm on their refusal to grant an amnesty.

"Not a general amnesty," he told TT. "There's no chance."

The Social Democrats say that as a matter of principle every case should be assessed individually.

TT/The Local

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