Crisis to turn Sweden’s budget surplus into deficit

Sweden announced on Tuesday it was cutting its 2008 budget surplus forecast, saying the financial crisis would result in a deficit next year rather than the surplus forecast earlier.

“Swedish central government finances are deteriorating. The current financial crisis is dampening economic growth and will make it more difficult to sell state assets,” the National Debt Office (Riksgälden) said in a statement.

“Together this means that the surpluses of recent years are turning into deficits and that central government borrowing is increasing,” it said.

The 2008 budget surplus was put at 148 billion kronor ($19 billion), compared to a June estimate of a record 163 billion kronor, of which 86 billion kronor was expected to come from the sale of state assets.

Sweden’s centre-right government which came to power in 2006 has launched a vast privatization programme aimed at selling assets worth 150 billion kronor in six state-owned companies over three years.

So far, the government has sold part or all of its stakes in four of the six companies, raking in some 116 billion kronor.

For 2009 however, the debt office said it only estimated three billion kronor in such income “due to the financial turbulence,” and did not expect any at all in 2010 “since it will probably take some time before the situation in the financial markets improves.”

The debt office said it expected a 2009 budget deficit of 23 billion kronor, compared to its June forecast of an 83 billion kronor surplus. The deficit was expected to widen in 2010 to 35 billion kronor.

Central government debt was estimated at 1.12 trillion kronor at the end of 2008, up from the 1.01 trillion previously announced.

It was expected to decline to 1.06 trillion kronor at the end of 2009 before rising again to 1.10 trillion in 2010, corresponding to 33 and 32 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) respectively.

At the end of August, the government said it expected growth of 1.5 percent this year, down sharply from 2.6 percent in 2007 and 4.1 percent in 2006.

The government predicted growth of 1.3 percent in 2009.


Educated Greeks flock to Sweden to find work

The deep financial crisis in Europe has led to more Greek citizens arriving in Sweden to seek employment, with twice as many coming 2011 compared to the year before.

Educated Greeks flock to Sweden to find work

”We have a lack of engineers here; there are not enough university trained engineers in Sweden to cover the demand,” said Peter Karancsi, of the European Job Mobility Portal EURES to Sveriges Radio (SR).

Fresh figures from the Swedish Migration Board (Migrationsverket) show that the number of Greeks registering as residents in Sweden doubled in 2011, compared to the year before.

And according to SR, almost 100 Greek medical doctors have received medical licenses in Sweden so far this year, more than from any other EU country outside of Scandinavia.

“I have a better chance fo getting a job here than in Greece,” said electrical engineer Charis Katsakakis, just arrived from Athens, to the broadcaster.

And despite being a recent graduate and not knowing any Swedish, his prospects of finding work in Sweden are good, Karancsi told SR.

“Many of the larger Swedish companies have trainee-schemes and also recruit for the future and there is a great chance of being accepted to these, even if you don’t speak fluent Swedish,“ he told SR.

However, for those without specialized knowledge, the situation is quite different.

“Everything felt hopeless in Greece, but it is no better here. And then I’d rather go home,” said 25-year-old Vladimiros Pavlides to SR.

Pavlides arrived in Sweden last autumn but has so far only managed to find a part-time job as a cleaner.

According to SR, the free movement over EU borders makes little difference when the labour market climate for those without specialized expertise is a lot tougher.

The Local/rm