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Persson promises 4% jobless next year

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16:43 CEST+02:00
Prime Minister Göran Persson presented the government's policy statement on Tuesday after King Carl Gustaf opened parliament's autumn session.

Despite the fact that the budget is yet to be approved by the Green Party, Persson pushed forward with his own party's package for jobs.

He said that the goal is full employment and that the first stage - open unemployment of 4% - would be reached in 2006.

Among other things, the jobs package means reduced employer taxes for 100,000 businesses in an attempt to encourage recruitment. A series of changes are in the pipeline for a more equal job market, said Persson, including increased protection for pregnant women and new parents, legislation on the right to full time work and investments in health and safety in women-dominated workplaces.

In addition, a pilot project will be launched to help those on long term sick leave back into work. The goal is to halve sickness benefit by 2008, announced the Prime Minister.

The government will present a national security program which will be designed to combat terrorism more effectively and reduce society's vulnerability to serious threats. A coordinated organisation will be proposed, as well as increased restrictions to prevent terrorist attacks.

Military personnel will be able to be placed under the command of the police and will assist with serious threats.

According to the government's policy statement, it will be possible for police to use bugging, while the DNA register will be expanded.

In his speech, Persson also dealt with the effects of Hurricane Gudrun. Some 450 million kronor will be put aside over the next three years for replanting the forests which were destroyed in the storm.

On November 1st a national health guarantee for all medical and psychiatric treatment will be introduced, he said, and added that "no public-financed healthcare will pushed aside for privately insured patients or run by private health companies".

As for the environment, the government declared its intention to end Sweden's dependency on fossil fuels by 2020. The use of electricity from renewable energy sources will increase by 15TWh over the next ten years.

A special subsidy will be introduced so that 145,000 small houses and 105,000 apartments which are heated by oil will be able to be switched to a sustainable alternative.

Persson also said that the EU's expansion must continue and that all European countries which fulfil the demands should, in his view, be allowed to become members.

TT/The Local

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