Swedish finance minister delivers ‘budget of reforms’

An evidently satisfied Pär Nuder made the traditional finance minister's budget walk from the Finance Department to parliament on Tuesday under cloudy Stockholm skies.

“This is a budget of reforms. It contains the biggest reforms we have made in Sweden,” said Nuder to reporters during the short stroll.

“Things are improving for Sweden,” claimed the finance minister when he began the budget debate in parliament later on.

And he promised that there were more reforms to come.

“The reform budget we are putting forward is long-awaited. And the good news is that we have the means, and we will have the means for more,” said Nuder.

He trotted out the positive figures which have been published by the Swedish Labour Board (AMS) and Statistics Sweden in the fortnight since the government agreed the contents of the spring budget with its coalition partners.

Unemployment has fallen and industrial production has increased, he said, along with orders for business.

Inflation is remaining low and the state’s surplus is greater than expected.

“The Swedish economy’s growth is strong and it is now better than in the majority of comparable countries. Now people are opening their wallets,” stated the finance minister with satisfaction.

The Moderates’ economic spokesman Mikael Odenberg described the government’s spring budget proposal as sprawling and muddled. He added that Pär Nuder was “more than a little self-satisfied and just as empty-handed”.

Odenberg said that the budget proposal was lacking structural reforms which make it more profitable to start companies, to recruit more people and to permanently increase employment. Instead the proposal consists mostly of labour board schemes.

“A responsible government would have taken the golden opportunity which a good economy provides to drive through these necessary structural reforms,” said Odenberg.

The Liberal Party’s Karin Pilsäter called the spring budget ‘a marriage proposal to the voters’.

“Despite the pink tie he’s up like a traditional English bride,” she said.

“The spring budget contains something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue. A lot of old promises sandwiching the odd bit of real news, a few of our suggestions are being taken forward and on a number of points he’s pulling the wool over [voters’] eyes.”

Just like Mikael Odenberg, Pilsäter criticised the government for not proposing any reforms which deal with the big challenges – the ageing population, globalisation, education and sick leave.

Mats Odell of the Christian Democrats agreed that things are going well for Sweden, but maintained that fewer and fewer are benefiting from the improvements.

“Pär Nuder said that we have had twelve years of rising salaries in real terms. But they apply to decreasing numbers of people,” he said.