Car industry aid sparks heated debate

The Social Democrats’ economic political spokesperson Tomas Eneroth slammed the government’s reaction to the problems plaguing the Swedish auto industry during a special debate in the Riksdag on Thursday.

He characterized the government’s measures as being too little too late.

“Sweden’s capacity as an industrial nation hangs in the balance,” he said.

Enterprise Minister Maud Olofsson ticked through all of the measures taken by the government thus far, adding that two more coordinators for dealing with the recent wave of redundancies had been named on Thursday.

She also said the Riksdag was in the process of issuing a decision about the government’s aid package for the vehicles industry.

“We are the first country to put forward such a package,” she said.

“There is a fantastic effort underway.”

But Eneroth remained unimpressed.

“In the end, a package worth 28 billion kronor ($3.6 billion) took everyone by surprise. But like a soufflé, it simply collapsed,” he said

“What exactly is in there,” he wondered, suggesting it should include measures such as an extension of the green car tax credit and a tax rebate for environmentally friendly disposal of old cars.

The Social Democrats want the Riksdag’s constitutional committee (KU) to review the government’s proposed car industry aid package.

The measure is so poorly supported that it could be considered misleading, claims the party.

The main pillar of the package is the 28 billion kronor worth of credit guarantees for 20 billion kronor in loans from the European Investment Bank (EIB).

The presentation of the measures gives the impression that the loans will be ready as soon as the government submits its guarantee, but that’s not the case, said the Social Democrats in their filing with KU.

Following the debate, Olofsson said she was surprised that the Social Democrats chose to report the aid package to the constitutional committee.

“It’s very surprising. I would have thought that the Social Democrats would want to support the vehicle aid package. I have a hard time understanding what the point of the KU filing is,” she said.