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Ministers announce job policy measures

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11:13 CEST+02:00
A package of policies aimed at getting more Swedes into work has been unveiled by the leaders of the four parties of the governing Alliance.

The party leaders, who are on a joint tour of parts of Sweden, announced that plans to cut payroll taxes for certain service sector industries would be brought forward by six months, and would now come into force in January 2008.

They also gave details of previously-announced policies such as abolishing wealth tax and tax cuts on domestic services such as childcare and cleaning.

The package will cost a total of 8 billion kronor ($1.1 billion). The most costly measures are the axing of wealth tax and the reduction in payroll taxes.

The government announced new plans to give an extra 80 million kronor to ALMI, a state-owned company that gives advice and offers financing to small and medium-sized companies. The company will receive the money between 2008 and 2010 in order to improve the help and advice it gives to small firms.

Another measure to help companies will be to change the rules for VAT accounting, so that companies only need to send in a VAT declaration every third month, rather than every month at present.

The party leaders also said they wanted to merge the Swedish Competition Authority (Konkurrensverket) with Sweden's public procurement agency (NOU). The merged authority would have its total budget increased by 20 milllion kronor in 2008, 10 million in 2009 and 10 million in 2010. The money would be used by the authority to bring more cases to court.

Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also announced that there would be a review of the bankruptcy laws. The review will look at the rules for debt write-offs for business owners and propose measures to make it easier for entrepreneurs to get out of debt.

"Things don't always go as planned. It is important to take care of business owners who trip up and don't really succeed the first time around," said Reinfeldt.

The review is expected to be complete by 15th September 2008.

In February, 219,000 people, or 4.8 percent of the workforce, was jobless. This down from 5.6 percent in February 2006. An additional 555,000 people were on long-term sick or disability benefits. A total of 78 percent of the population aged between 20 and 64 were counted as being in employment or self-employment in February, according to Statistics Sweden.

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